A New Kitchen Tool – The Food Mill and Making Your Own Tomato Paste

We had a lot of tomatoes recently (thanks Phyllis!) so I made some home-made Rotel (basically just diced tomatoes and hot peppers) and a ginormous batch of our pico recipe, and I canned both.

Rotel

Pico (salsa to some)

The pico has a lot of other ingredients like cilantro, bell peppers, onion, hot peppers, etc. So they might look similar but they do have different flavors. We use these in just about everything these days…soups, stews, chili, and scrambled eggs all come to mind.

After I finished those two projects, we still had a boatload of tomatoes left. We also still have a few jars of our meat sauce in the cupboard so we thought we’d make some non-meat, tomato sauce and/or paste. Don did some research and decided we needed a food mill. There are other ways to go about removing tomato skins; I think he just wanted a new toy in the kitchen. However, it’s not terribly expensive and it’s a simple, straightforward tool that might come in handy with other projects. So. Introducing…the food mill!

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It sits on top of another pan. You spoon your tomatoes that have been cooking down for hours into the mill. Then turn the crank. Pretty simple.

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Works pretty well. Did not take me long to go through that entire pot of tomatoes.

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Next, while the sauce continued to cook down on the stove, Don made a paste of basil and oregano, using a little bit of sauce from the pot as the liquid to blend it down.

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(Thanks for the basil Ashley!)

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We added the basil paste and let it cook a bit to incorporate fully.

Next, we parted the sauce into thirds and moved two-thirds into two cake pans that went in the oven on low, around 200 degrees, to reduce while the last third stayed on the stove on low. (Most recipes for making tomato paste that Don read online suggested using a cookie sheet. We just don’t have any that aren’t a total mess; they need parchment paper when used, which would not have worked with the sauce. These cake pans however still maintain their non-stick coating which made them perfect for this purpose.)

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Once it finally looked sufficiently “pasty”, I jarred it up.

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It made five 8 ounce jars. WOW. It took a TON of tomatoes to make a small amount of product. I wish I had a picture that illustrates it better but this is the best I have. This is an 8-quart stockpot.

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It was full, to the very top, until the tomatoes cooked down to what you see in the picture.

And now, it’s all in these five jars. Makes my mind boggle over how many tomatoes are needed to make the jars and jars of spaghetti sauce and tomato paste on the shelves in stores.

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I have no idea how many hours it took. We spread it out over the course of a week, actually working on it for 3 days. But actual hours on the stove? No idea. This was a labor of love and creativity in our kitchen and I sure hope the results are as spectacular as they have been on all our previous canning adventures.

We are ever grateful to our friends with gardens who have shared their bounty with us this summer, giving us this opportunity. It may be a bit of work to make these things ourselves but the fresh, homegrown flavors are worth every minute.

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.
~ Cesar Chavez

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