Passata – Italian Tomato Sauce

Passata – Italian Tomato Sauce

This is a staple ingredient of most Italian kitchens as it plays a major part in many Italian recipes, ranging from pasta sauces and pizza base coatings to stews, soups and poaching liquids. Although you can buy ready-made commercial passata easily, it’s flavour will never compare to any home made version made with fresh ingredients.

making passata sauce

Makes – 4 to 5 small bottles/jars

5 kg of ripe tomatoes (‘Roma’ are best as they have less water content)
large handful of salt
few sprigs of fresh basil

metal sieve (passata sieve), food mouli or electric liquidiser
heavy duty pillow case
bottles/jars for storage

Preparation – metal sieve or mouli method
1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly.
2. Cut in half and squeeze flesh slightly so the seeds and the free liquid in the tomato are expelled. Do this for all the tomatoes and then discard the accumulated seeds and water.
3. Place the metal sieve or mouli over a large bowl and then fill with the cut tomato halves.
4. Push and stir the tomato flesh against the metal ridges and holes in the sieve or turn the handle on the mouli, so that the liquid flesh passes through and the tomato skins and seeds are left behind.
5. Discard skins/seed and process remaining tomatoes, then proceed to step 6.

Preparation – liquidiser method
1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly.
2. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When boiling, blanch the whole tomatoes for a few minutes so their outer skins soften and can be removed easily.
3. Blanch and remove skin from remaining tomatoes and discard skins.
4. Cut each tomato in half and squeeze the flesh slightly so the seeds and free liquid in the tomato are expelled, then discard seeds and excess liquid.
5. Chop tomato halves roughly and place in liquidiser to convert flesh to liquid. Collect the liquid in a large bowl and continue processing the remaining tomatoes.

6. Stir a large handful of salt into the tomato liquid and transfer to a heavy-duty pillowcase.
7. Tie the pillowcase up in an outside place and allow the excess liquid to drain from the tomato flesh inside the pillowcase. For this amount of tomatoes, it should only require 20 to 30 minutes of hanging, before the tomato passata is sufficiently de-watered to be bottled or used fresh.
8. Line up a number of clean, washed and sterilised bottles. Fill to within 2 centimetres of top, place a sprig of basil into the bottle/jar and seal with a clean, sterilised lid.
9. Place filled bottles into large pot on the stove (ensuring that they are covered completely with water) and bring to boil.
10. Boil vigorously for 15 to 20 minutes and then turn off stove and allow bottles to cool in water.
11. When bottles have cooled they can be removed from water and stored in a cool, dark place until required. They will store easily for 12 months.

Italian passata sauce

If making more than a few kilo’s of tomato at a time it is probably appropriate to buy a passata churning machine. A hand cranked version is only $20.00 – $30.00 and well worth the investment.

Fresh passata (un-bottled and unpasteurised) can be used directly from the pillowcase in any dish. It has a softer, fresher taste to pasteurised passata and is often used in summertime dishes for its lighter qualities.


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  1. 1

    This was very tasty, but mine was quite sharp. That’s why it needed a seocnd warming to set properly. Next time I shall choose only the ripest and sweetest of fruit. The more sugar, the easier it sets I expect. It’s very easy to make and I love using the mouli to crush the fruit. It’s a very soothing operation, turning the handle round and round

    • 2

      Thanks for your comment on my passata post Sarbani. True Italian passata does not need to set such as for jam, it is pure tomato pulp that has been pasteurised within a sealed container (usually a jar or bottle) so it can be stored for a period of time. I suspect that what you are describing is a tomato relish or chutney both very tasty but not Italian Passata.

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