Tomatoes gallore

I’m drowning in tomatoes. I shouldn’t complain because last year my tomato plants succumbed to blight before I had a decent crop, so apart from a handful that ripened before the disease had spread too far, the rest of the crop were harvested while still green and turned into chutney. I was gutted as I’d had plans to make lots of tomato pasta sauce to see us through the winter. Well, I’m making up for that now, having harvested my fourth carrier bag full of toms.

As you can see I still have a lot of under ripe toms which are ripening on a warm windowsill in my lean-to conservatory. Apparently a ripe tomato gives off a chemical similar to a ripe banana which encourages other fruit to ripen, so I’ve added a couple of these to the pile, in the hope they’ll urge the green ones on.

In the meantime, I’d better do something with this lot:

This will make my third batch of tomato sauce, and I think, like most things in life, I’ve cracked it third time around.

You can add a multitude of things to a pasta sauce, onions, garlic, carrots, courgettes, anchovies, roasted peppers to name but a few. But for this one I’m keeping it simple, just basil and olive oil and a bit of garlic. Along with a grinding of salt and pepper, that is all that goes in. It doesn’t need any extra water as there’s enough in the tomatoes already. I’m using a pressure cooker which was a gift from mum last Christmas, and has proved very useful, especially when time is short.

The first time I made this sauce, I blanched the tomatoes with boiling water and then spent a lot of time (and created a lot of mess) peeling the skins off, and removing as many of the seeds as possible. It was a faff and, I’ve now decided, completely unnecessary. Surely a lot of the nutrients are contained in the skin and seeds, so why get rid of them? I guess the idea is so you don’t have bits of skin in the sauce to chew on, but I’ll come to that later.

So, the chopped tomatoes go in with the other ingredients, and then cook under pressure for about 25-30 minutes. I then left the lid off and let it very gently simmer and reduce down for another hour.

At this point, I used a hand blender to blitz all the bits of tomato skin, and the whole thing thickens up into something more like a chunky tomato soup.

Spooned into some warm sterilised jars, and there you have it, five jars of simple, organic, tomato pasta sauce. And I still have a crop on the windowsill and at least one more bag full still growing on the allotment. Any recipe ideas?

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