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Tomato gluts

Beefsteak tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes

Space-saving concentrate

I love home-grown tomatoes. Trouble is, they tend to come in gluts, especially with the amount I grow.

Freezing was the obvious answer – concentrating the tomatoes into a paste so they take up as little room as possible.

Washing and de-stalking the tomatoes

I leave the skins on, which wouldn’t please Italian purists, but I like it. Only use the pinch of sugar if your tomatoes are tasteless. Feel free to leave the odori out if you can’t be bothered – the paste will be an ingredient in something else anyway.

Basic tomato paste to freeze

In the pan and starting to pop…
  • Odori: one onion, carrot, stick of celery, finely chopped; bunch flat-leaved parsley, chopped; 1-3 cloves garlic, according to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3lb ripe tomatoes washed
  • Salt, pepper, and sugar (optional), to taste

In a wide, shallow non-stick stockpot, fry the odori in the oil over a medium heat until soft.

Add small tomatoes whole or roughly chop large fruits, removing any hard core.

Allow the whole fruits to pop their skins and cook down a little over a medium heat, then with a potato masher, gently squash the fruit to extract their juice.

After 15 minutes…

(Don’t go mad, or you’ll get it in your eye. It stings, I know.)

Season with salt and pepper. If your tomatoes are very acidic or (heaven forbid) the tasteless supermarket variety, a large pinch of sugar will balance acidity or boost flavour.

Leave to reduce on a very low heat with the pan lid off for a couple of hours – or longer, stirring occasionally, until as thick as chutney.

Pack into freezer bags (to save space), cool completely, label and freeze.

A chutney-like consistency after a couple of hours of simmering with the lid off

A box the size of a Chinese takeaway carton will serve a family as a sauce base for pasta – remember, it’s very concentrated.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.