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Tomato purée, or, as we call it, The Preserve

Summer, time of preserves. Once again the protagonists are the tomatoes, in a simple version, pure: the preserve, a universal name that does not need specification, because in my house the preserve is exclusively the preserve of tomatoes.

In the collective imagination the tomato is one of the elements that more represent Italy, along with mozzarella, olive oil and pasta. The tomato is used into the pomarola sauce, into the impressive Neapolitan pizza, the caprese salad and my family meat sauce.

Yet it is not always been so. The tomatoes came from Spain to Italy, in Naples, during the Spanish domination, and only at the end of the eighteenth century we began to use them as food: we have spent so much time to understand how gorgeous they are, both cooked and raw!

But with the help of the Italian sun and the ideal climate they quickly became one of our favorite vegetables, and even today tomatoes are the most consumed vegetables by the Italians: in summer I proudly do my part, contributing greatly to keep high the average consumption, choosing often tomatoes – the ox heart are my favorites – as a side dish or light main dish, with fresh onions, corn and Maldon salt!

Do you know that the Italian name for tomato – pomodoro, that sounds like golden apple – was likely initially attributed to a variety of yellow tomatoes, one of the first appeared in Europe from America? Nowadays the yellow tomatoes are among the most wanted and appreciated, along with the green, purple, striped ones… the heirloom tomatoes, a dream for many foodies like me!

My favourite farmer has all kinds of tomatoes, but they are all wonderfully and joyfully red! I’ve been thinking about that green corner so much lately, now I finally got some pictures of the vegetable garden and its products. I went there with my camera and, after having purchased a 10 kilos of tomatoes, I walked along the rows of green beans and tomatoes…



Tomato purée, or, as we call it, The Preserve

Giulia Scarpaleggia
5 from 1 vote
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  • ripe San Marzano Tomatoes
  • basil leaves
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  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil on high heath.
  • Throw into the pot the San Marzano tomatoes previously washed (you can do this in more batches, according to the quantity of the tomatoes and to the size of the pot you chose).
  • Let the water resume the boil and after 2 - 3 minutes remove the tomatoes and put them in a clean large cotton cloth.
  • Prick the tomatoes with a fork and then close the cloth to form a bag, as pictured above.
  • Hang the bag so that it can drain all the water, squeezing it often with your hands.
  • After about 2 to 3 hours, when the tomatoes have lost all the water, pass them through a vegetable mill using the finest sieve.
  • Collect the tomato purée in a bowl, then pour it into sterilized bottles or jars, adding a few leaves of basil.


How to store the tomato purée. Put the jars in a large pot and cover with water: bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes and then remove from the heat. Let the jars cool completely in the pan, then remove them from water. You can store them for several months in a dry, cool and dark place.
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Now that all your bottles of ruby-red tomato sauce are lined up on a shelf or in the pantry, now that the smell and taste of summer are enclosed in a safe place… aren’t you already super-excited, thinking about how many other recipes you can do with the tomato purée? I am, and these are some ideas to use the tomato purée:

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This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. I got here from tastespotting and am glad I did. I bought a lot of tomatoes at the market today and your recipe sounds like a great way to preserve them for later.

  2. There is nothing like jarring your own tomatoes. I use to do this my Aunt. I keep saying I’m going to do it again but don’t. I love the simplicity & freshness of Italian cooking. It’s the best food in the world! I’m glad I found your blog.

    1. as I pointed out on Monday, yes, the simplicity is one of the main points that make Italian cooking so appreciated!

  3. This is STUNNING! I love the photos and the recipe! I never thought to take the water out of tomatoes before preserving….brilliant!

  4. WOW – I can smell the dark opal basil from the picture! My favorite basil. Love your method of making tomato puree! Beautiful pictures!

  5. I’ve just come back from Bologna & ate far tooooo much whilst there but I’m now ready to start cooking so headed to my favorite Lucullian Delights & found your link there. I’m bookmarking you straight away as I can already taste that tomato sauce! Now all I need is the time to read through all your posts.

    1. Hi Carolle, so happy to meet you! Hope to see you again in these pages, I’ll be happy to share with you happy cooking moments!

  6. I love your blog, it reminds me of the few days we spent in Tuscany, it takes back there, we loved Tuscany so much, that we’re going back next year.wish i could bring plum tomatoes with me from Italy and use them like you did.

    1. ciao, so happy to discover you and your blog! what amazing pictures you have there! Where have you been in Tuscany?

      1. we stayed in Florence, and went from there to Pisa, Lucca (which is amazing) and 2 days in Florence, and we went outside tuscany, one day spent in Venice. there were alot we didnt see. so hopefully next year, we’ll be able to discover all Florence. for example, we couldnt see the Uffizi and Boboli gardens; on the list for next time. and we also want to eat more spaghetti, we discover a resto where we ate around 3 – 4 times, yummi pizza ai funghi and the spaghetti al pomodoro. well maybe next time we could meet and you make us discover new places and flavors in Tuscany.

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