Tomato Paste with Capsicum and Fresh Herbs
As summer ends there is usually a point in time where you hit a stage of complete overwhelm. A walk around the garden is almost dreaded – being in the garden is not dreaded, but the brain power required to come up with yet another way of using the garden bounty that your family will eat can be challenging. If you have ever felt like this you may be pleased to know that my new book Grow Just One Thing – The first step in a fresh food journey is not just about how to grow your own fresh food. It is filled with menu planning tips for dealing with abundant garden harvests, as well as tips on how to maximise the ingredients you have and balance them with your families likes and dislikes. Be sure to pre-order your signed copy at a special price here until 15th March only.
Do you use Instagram? I love it! You can find me there as @kyrstie_afl Instagram is a lovely friendly place to hang out and admire the gardens, cooking and “goings on” of others with similar interests. The reason I’m mentioning it is because about a week ago on Instagram someone mentioned that they were making tomato paste and it made a light bulb go off for me. Our tomato harvests are regularly used to make tomato sauce, chutney and lots of dried tomatoes in the dehydrator. I also make passata each year but not from my own tomatoes. This year I was keen to try something new, particularly as my freezer is full with no space to add more dehydrated tomatoes.
I did a little googling to get a feel for some of the commonly used methods to make tomato paste. Most of the recipes involved cooking down the mixture on the stove, passing it through a sieve and then cooking it down further in the oven until it was a very thick consistency. I was not keen on fussing with a sieve nor was I keen to monitor the mixture in the oven over a long period of time. As I paced my kitchen trying to ponder a quick fix solution my eyes fell on the dehydrator. Perfect!
Plain tomato paste on it’s own would be a great addition to the fridge but I wanted to add in some other things from the garden that are also currently in great supply such as the basil which is glorious right now and will not be around for too much longer.
This is the recipe for a concentrated tomato and capsicum paste I came up with and I have to say, I am thrilled with it. This recipe will most certainly be added to my regular summer recipes each year.
This recipe is very simple to make. It takes a little time to get to the end result but there is little effort involved in the process. You do need a dehydrator to make this recipe.
- 2 kilo of tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
- 250 grams of capsicums chopped
- 110 grams of fresh herbs - basil, parsley and a few sprigs of oregano - remove thick stalks
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Olive oil to store
- Add the ingredients to a deep pan and set to low heat to simmer until the mixture thickens (approximately 2-3 hours)
- Stir occasionally
- Once the mixture has thickened use a stick blender to puree the sauce
- Lay sheets of baking paper out onto the dehydrator shelves - the mixture filled three shelves when I made it, this may vary depending on the tomatoes that you use. Pour the liquid onto the sheets and spread evenly outwards from the center to the edges.
- Turn the machine to 125 degrees F or 52 degrees celcius and set for 4 hours. It will take 4-6 hours depending on how thick you spread the paste.
- It is ready when the mixture is thick on the sheets but is not dry as it would be if you were making fruit wraps.
- When the dehydrator has finished remove the shelves and scrape the paste into jars using a spatula. Push the paste down into the jar to avoid air bubbles and then add a layer of olive oil to seal the top
- Store in the fridge, or alternatively add the paste to ice cube trays and freeze.Each cube is about 1 tablespoon and can be used in slow cooking, casseroles, bakes etc after summer has finished.
This is the first time I've made this recipe I am not sure how long it will last in the fridge. In theory if it is covered with a layer of oil it should last about 12 months. As with any food kept in storage, check for signs of spoilage prior to using and discard immediately if you see or smell anything strange.
Are your tomatoes still producing? What are you making with them?
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