Easy Home-Made Tomato Passata

Have you ever been tempted to make your own tomato pasta sauce, but got put off by the daunting thought that this is a complicated job, best left to the expert, wrinkled  hands of a good-old  Italian Nonna? Think again! Home-made passata is within everybody’s reach. All you need is a food miller, some empty glass jars and, naturally, the ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can fetch. For those of you frolicking in the heat of high summer, this is a reasonably easy feat. We, antipodean dwellers must be patient and wait a few more months before we can get our hands on the ruby-red jewels!

As a child growing up in Italy, I was exposed from a very early age to the delicate sweetness of my Mamma and Nonna’s passata. Every August, we children were assigned the task of washing tons of plump tomatoes, so ripe they almost burst in our tiny and clumsy hands. Mamma and Nonna would then put them all in a cauldron accompanied by other essentials herbs to stew gently, the sweet fumes impregnating the kitchen wall, our clothes, our hair. They would then mill them vigorously to obtain a thick and peel-free, crimson nectar, read to be bottled. The prospect of winter seemed to be more endurable, all of a sudden!

Ingredients (makes 3×450 gr jar)

2 kg (4 pounds) of ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters

1 stick of celery

2 spring onions, cut into chunks

1 chillie (chilli pepper),  leave out if you don’t like the heat

2-3 handfuls of fresh basil

a few sprigs of fresh oregano

salt to taste

1. Put the prepared vegetables in a large saucepan over medium heat, bring to a gentle simmer, turn the heat to low and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and the scent of Italy has invaded your home. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking,

2. Allow to cool in the spot for 10 minutes, then, working in batches, pass the vegetables through a food miller. You can choose to also pass the nectar through a sieve to get rid of seeds, but I personally like it rustic and a bit chunky.

3. Now all is left for you to do it is to put the passata back in the saucepan to heat up for a few minutes, ready to be poured hot into freshly sterilized glass jars and lids.

If you are not familiar with the process, this is how I do it:

– Always use new lids. Old lids will fail to seal the jar safely.

– To sterilize jars and lids, simply put them in the dish water and run a hot temperature cycle. Allow to dry in the machine, then fill the hot jars with hot liquid until 3/4 full. Seal with the lid securely. Turn the jars upside down to facilitate the creation of the vacuum, and allow to cool at room temperature.

– You can also sterilize them in a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes. LIft them out with tongs, allow them to dry, upside down, on a clean tea towel, then proceed as above.

Keep the jars in a dark cupboard and consume within 6 months.

Summer in a bottle!

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachel says:

    Hello Silvia. I’d like to try this but don’t have a food mill. Would it still work if I pureed it with a stick blender? Thanks!

    1. Hi Rachel,
      you can , but I would suggest passing it through metal sieve afterwards, just to have a smoother puree. Good luck!

    2. Danielle says:

      Hi Rachel,

      I don’t have a mill either, how did you go using the stick blender?


  2. it looks beautiful!

  3. Lasairiona says:

    perfect!! I’ve been looking for a passata here in the US, i’m thrilled you posted this recipe 🙂

    1. Thank you! Let me know how you go.

  4. I’ll be making this, Silvia! Have some really overripe ‘maters and it’s time to transform them into this deeeelish pasta sauce!! xo ally

  5. Isabelle says:

    Hi! with the chilli pepper… is it really a hard heat…? And can i put the tomato pasta sauce in the freezer…. Thank you! Isabelle

    1. Hi Isabelle. I like to se mild chillie peppers, as my two little boys love to eat this sauce. You can try the hotter ones, if you dare! It freezes beautifully in an container fitted with lid for up to 2 months.

  6. Bernadette says:

    We make canned tomatoes every other year! Can have canned up to couple hundred ! Nothing compared to my Mom who did 500 one year. We come from a huge family of 9 . I like to blance the tomatoes and then peel them. But will def try this recipe with all the herbes and chilie =) Thanks Silvia…. love your site

    1. Thanks Bernadette. Wow, 500..i’m impressed!

  7. ambrasancin says:

    I’m of Italian heritage (Trieste born, Sydney bred) and after making my own mandarin marmalade for the past two years (with homegrown mandarins) I’ve caught the preserving bug! So, tomato passata is next on my list. And I have a proper Italian mouli too.

    1. Ambra, so happy to meet you via this blog! Keep cooking and keep up the italian traditions!

  8. Mariagrazia says:

    I just stumble on your blog, 🙂 like it. …I make my salsa di pomodoro ( or passata) with celery, carotes ,onions, garlic, ( and some of the herbs one likes.) i let the tomatoes drain their water first,then I put everything in a big pot, let cook them, then do the “rest” mash then, jars etc. etc. before closing the jar i add a leave of basil and then cover with olive oil. ( I am Italian from Livorno Toscany, now living in Illinois USA) been doing this for a while now.

    1. Grazie mille Maria Grazia! La tua ricetta sembra fantastica. Sono stata a Livorno diverse volte per lavoro e mi piace tantissimo! A presto

  9. Jane says:

    Hi Silvia,

    I love the look of your passata in the jars it looks delicious, however i am unable to eat tomatoes due to allergies. I was wondering, do you think i could substitute capsicums instead of tomatoes into this recipe.


    1. HI Jane. I think it could work beautifully, maybe in combinations with onions?

  10. Kym says:

    Olive oil bread crescents are proving, I’m about to make this passata and my husband about to make your woodmans chicken, all despite living in Japan – think my family is a bit in love with your recipes!! Thanks!

  11. Kristy Sears says:

    I’m of Italian heritage, but unfortunately my nonna has passed on … I did however, get her pasta maker and have been making my own sauce for years. While in a book store I stumbled across your 2nd book … I’m soooo excited to try this recipe as I do remember as a child how my nonna and nonno would make their own passata and bottle them in dark long neck beer bottles. I’m currently collecting all the material needed to give it a go … Wish me luck 🙂

  12. I made this the other day with my home grown tomatoes & my 3 bottles are sitting nicely in the pantry but I have noticed that the passata seems to have separated a bit & at the top of the jars the liquid is clear. Is this ok??

    1. Yes, it is to be expected!

  13. Will Munson says:

    Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is simply nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  14. Lorraine Swanson-Hoyle says:

    well its 10’oclock at night & I have decided to make this passata as our Italian neighbours have just given us a heap of tomatoes,Although I am not Italian{Kiwi import for 15 yrs, We are surrounded by traditional Italian families who came here after the war & are orchardists, I try on lots of occasions to get recipes & are really embracing culture, I have just cured & marinated my first batch of home grown olives!! The House is smelling like Italy & I have just tossed in home grown Basil & Oregano! My Husband is trying to sleep as early start but got up as he thought I was cooking Breakfast!! We dont have a food mill, but I put the tomatoes through our large Juicer which worked a treat, Now I am toasting bread as I cant wait till morning!!! Thank you & I love watching your show Silvia, Seeing your beautiful Family, As well as The session where you got your Dad to cook the Courgettes Gratin – Just so wholesome & My 14 yr old son loves to cook too we are so fortunate to have so many cultures to blend, & cooking to me means family & Friends…. xx Lorraine.

    1. What a lovely image you have conjured up! I wish I had been there!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s