This is the recipe (not the rule) for tomato paste – not the fabulous, amazing, much-awaited recipe for Tomato Glut Sauce, which I will share soon, but hey, you don’t have any fresh tomatoes yet, anyway! And I don’t want you all going out and buying nasty, flavorless tomatoes at the grocery store just to make this! Wait until you have your own tomatoes and you will be glad you did.
8 quarts Roma or other meaty tomatoes (about 4 dozen)
1-1/2 cups sweet red or green peppers, chopped (about 3)
1 cup chopped onion
2 bay leaves
3 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
1-1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, torn
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Wash and trim tomatoes. If you don’t like the skins, blanch and remove the skins. Combine the tomatoes, peppers, onions, bay leaves, basil, oregano, and salt in a large stockpot and simmer for about 1 hour. At this point, if you want smooth tomato paste, you can sort of mash it with a large spoon, put it through a sieve, or whirl it in a food processor or blender until it is smooth. If you like it slightly more rustic and lumpy, don’t do that step. Back in the stockpot, add the garlic, and continue cooking for about 2-1/2 hours, until it is thick enough to keep a wooden spoon standing straight upright in it. Keep stirring while you’re cooking it, every few minutes at least, and keep the temperature down so it cooks but doesn’t scorch. If you’re happy with the texture, pour it into hot 1/2-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process the jars for 45 minutes in a boiling water bath. If you’d rather freeze this, you could measure the sauce in 1-cup increments into freezer bags and freeze them flat. (That’s what I do because I’m not a master canner, yet.)
This isn’t as good as the Tomato Glut Sauce, in my opinion, but we all have recipes that call for tomato paste, and this is miles better than the way-too-sweet stuff you buy in the grocery stores. Enjoy!