After I was married, my mom and my mother-in-law would always each give me a few bottles of tomato purée they had processed that year. As years went by, my mom and her family stopped preserving tomatoes as they were getting to an age when it was too tiring for them as it was for my mother-in-law. I realized that this tradition would not continue unless I began making it a ritual in my family. So this year, I made tomato purée for the first time with the help of my good friend Carla.
We scored, blanched, and peeled the tomatoes. Then we each took turns at processing 30 pounds of tomatoes through the electric tomato machine my husband and I purchased when we first got married. We had purchased it with the intent of making tomato puree but instead it was stored in the basement for years and never used until this year. When we removed the last jars out of the water bath canner, we had 16 half pints of tomatoes purée in total. That was just a trial run for this year.
I felt such a sense of accomplishment that day. I finally understood my mom’s family Labour Day ritual. It wasn’t just about canning tomatoes to use throughout the year, it was also about being with family and friends. I already advised my family that next year we are going to start our own tomato preserving tradition – on Labour Day.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 jars (500 grams each) tomato purée
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 basil leaves
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a medium size Dutch oven or sauce pan over medium-low heat.
- Add the chopped onion and cook until the onion is soft (about 2 minutes).
- Add the chopped garlic, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste and tomato purée.
- Season with the salt, crushed pepper flakes and basil.
- Stir and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.