I had a horrible feeling it would go wrong. I didn’t have a nice formal book, propped open at the correct page. I had a hunch, a load of websites telling me how to sterilise jars, and too many tomatoes to know what to do with.
I also had RAI Radio 1’s summer evening programme playing me a load of truly terrible 80s and 90s music. “Right” I thought. Let’s begin.
I started halving the tomatoes and taking out the bulk of the seeds. This is an exceptionally messy job. I have found seeds splattered far further than I would have thought possible. Half way through I started questioning what I was doing. But I soon got into a rhythm. I reached tomato zen.
Filling a pan, I fired up the gas. Again, panic set in. Should I have added anything? Is this going to work?
Liquid and seeds. All I could see was liquid and seeds. “Just think of the waste” my brain repeated over and over. I started mentally composing a blog emphasising the importance of trying things, of trial and error.
Distracted by a series of texts from my godmother I idly stirred. Maybe I would just write this one off. I wouldn’t tell anyone. And then I looked down. The magic was happening!
The tomatoes were breaking down and thickening into a beautiful red mess. Full of skins and seeds but a million times closer to passata. Some more stirring and squashing and it was time.
I knew I didn’t have a food mill (I know!!) so had to think outside the box. “If this goes anywhere near well I will start looking at food mills” I thought. The collander was put over a bowl to extract the skins. An application of the wooden spoon and then the ladle for a bit of heft and I was left with a bowl full of something that seriously looked like a very rustic passata.
Again, equipment was proving tricky. My one good size bowl was now full! A sive over a good sized plastic storage box saw off the last of the seeds. And there it was. A miracle! Passata! Admittedly, only one small jar. But it was passata.
The jar was popped into boiling water to seal, while I treated myself to an episode of Young Montalbano and a glass of wine.
And there it is. My first foray into passata!