Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Taste of Paste

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.

Estratto

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.

4 comments:

Loo said...

Looks like I will be making the SoCal Santa Barbara version (read: in the oven) since I have friends who are literally over-run with the lovely red fruits. They are begging neighbors to help out before they leave for seven weeks in Italy (the poor things.)

Gotta get me some paste!

kab said...

Yes, indeed! I'm thinking it'll be mighty nice come winter to have some of that summer sunshine in a bottle in the fridge.

Thanks to you and the Hankster for sharing!

Hank said...

Glad to hear you'll have some tomatoey goodness this winter! This stuff is good good I eat it on toast as a snack. Make sure you keep it covered in olive oil. And it need not be refigerated if you have a place that is dark and cooler than 70 degrees...

kab said...

Thanks to you, I will! I made some up today and it looks amazing...thick and delicious. And the recipe worked great as written. Can't wait to try it!