Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tomato Paste

I've had four trays of tomatoes ripening on the dinning room table for several weeks, since our first snowfall earlier this month.   As they ripen, I use them. 
I've roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, made tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato pesto, tomato salsa, even tomato mayonnaise, but the one thing I hadn't made was tomato paste. 
Having enough of all the above tomato items in my pantry and freezer, when ten pounds of tomatoes ripened at the same time, I decided to use them for tomato paste.
With only three ingredients, this recipe for tomato paste from Food52, is about as simple as it gets.  I suggest you make it on a day that you are house bound, like a bad weather day, because this process does require a lot of hands on.
Wash and quarter the ten pounds of tomatoes.  Combine them in a large pan with 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of sea salt.  Cook until they are soft and the peels begin to detach.  Push warm tomatoes through a food mill, so that you separate the tomato pulp from the seeds and skins.  Some of the seeds found their way through, but that didn't bother me.
Divide the tomato pulp between two large, rimmed baking sheets and bake them in a 350 degree oven.  Check every half hour, stirring the paste and switching the position of the baking sheets for even baking.  Over time, it will start to reduce and you can combine the two pans into one.  Continue baking until the paste is a shiny, brick color and there is no more moisture separating from the paste. 
I filled two ice cube trays, covered them with plastic wrap and allowed them to freeze. 
The next day I popped them out of the trays and froze them in small batches.  Each cube is about 1 1/2-2 Tablespoons of paste.  I can't wait to try these in my winter soups.
Looking down into the backyard this morning, we woke to 3" of snow; they were forecasting between 1-4".  Early snowfall, lightly covering the branches and leaves, is a gentle introduction to winter.  We are expecting another 3" tonight, and then a quick melt for the beginning of next week.


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