I can't wait until summer when I have so many tomatoes that I'll have a canned stock full of home grown tomatoes. Because nothing, nothing beats fresh tomatoes. Last summer we were a little too busy for a garden. You know, getting married and going on a honeymoon and all. In the meantime, Fred Meyer had a sale on roma tomatoes for 79 cents a lb! So cheap. So naturally I bought 11 lbs. I wanted tomato paste! In retrospect, I should have bought even more because a lot of tomatoes only makes a little bit of tomato paste.
Tomato paste is super easy to make. It just takes a hell of a long time to make. But really, it's just tomatoes, oil, and salt. I guess you could add other herbs and spices if you wanted, but I was planning on using the paste for ketchup and pizza sauce, so I wanted it as neutral as possible.
So first just a rough chop of all of the tomatoes. I started with about 5 lbs, but then decided on making more so I chopped up another 3 lbs.
Then I added them to my pots with a little bit of olive oil. I could have used our huge stock pot to put them all in one, but by this time I realized I needed to make poutine for my husband, so I needed that pot for cheese.
This is when it would have been nice to have been able to use our vegetable strainer attachment for the kitchen aid. Because this process took forever. And after the 10th sieve of tomatoes, it started to get annoying. But I was already invested and I wanted tomato paste, dammit!
Basically, once the tomatoes were all cooked down, it was just a slow (and painful) process of separating the skins and seeds. Which meant filling the sieve with tomatoes, them mashing them down, then mixing that mashed bit around... and around... and around... and freaking around some more to make sure I got all of the liquid. Just like what a food mill does but way less effective and way more time consuming. Seriously. I may just need to invest in one and give up on the kitchen aid attachment.
In the meantime, this juice was ready to reduce and thicken. There are few ways I could have done this. I could have done it on the stove top and just kept stirring it while it reduced. Too much maintenance. Or I could have put it all in the crockpot, but that only had two options: low for 12 hrs stirring every hour. 12 hours?! No thank you. Or on high for 4 hours stirring every 15-20 minutes. F that. So I went with the in the oven for 3 hrs and leave it alone method. Because by this time I was starting to plan out the poutine and really didn't want to have to worry about stirring.
So I filled a couple of pans and popped 'em in the oven and left them alone. But I did check them after a couple of hours to make sure they were doing what they're supposed to and I couldn't help myself. I stirred them some and put them back in the oven.
So I sterilized some canning jars and lids and once all the paste was as paste-y as I wanted / had given enough time (I needed the oven for my poutine fries), I filled the jars and then preserved them by boiling the jars for about 45 mins.