Like my brother and myself, my friend, Loo, and her sib, Hank, are both bloggers. Hank writes about politics for The Record, a paper in San Joaquin County, California, a place hot enough that you can make tomato paste in your driveway. Yes, I was as startled as you when Loo mentioned it, but it gets so warm there that he can actually make paste from his tomatoes in his driveway.
Informed of this intriguing fact, I, of course, insisted on getting the recipe as proof of his claim. Plus I knew it would be a great post for the blog. I mean, just saying it is cool enough. "Tomato paste in the driveway." Pffffft! It's a natural!
So for those whose curiosity has been piqued, here's the recipe. Plus an option for those of us not exactly in sizzling central California.
Cut up your bushel of tomatoes into large dice and sauté over your highest heat in a large stock pot, with olive oil and salt, until they start to soften. This could be 5 minutes, it could be 10. Don't cook more than 15 minutes.
In a food mill using the middle strainer (best choice, but a strainer works too), press the tomatoes through to remove seeds and skins.
Take the resulting very liquidy tomatoes and pour onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Place the sheet in your driveway or on some other extremely hot place in the direct sun. Bugs don’t seem to bother mine, but if they do yours, then fashion a net over the top. You can use cheesecloth or very fine wire mesh. In a few hours, using a spatula, scoop the tomatoes around and re-spread. At the end of the day, take the lot in and leave on a counter. Repeat this process for several days. At the end, it should be reduced by a 3/4 and be a thick, delicious tomato-y paste. Look for a brick-red color and an almost clay-like consistency
If you live in less sunny climes without the industrial-strength sun we have in Sacramento, then you can do this in the oven. Start at 300 degrees for about 3 hours, then stir and drop the temperature to 200 degrees until you get the proper consistency.
Place in a clean glass jar, top with olive oil and it should keep for a year. Ideally it should be in a cool (sub-70 degree) place, so that might mean the door of your fridge.