In Season Tomatoes - Passata Day – Mercato

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In Season Tomatoes - Passata Day

Passata Day isn’t an undertaking you do by yourself. It’s not a solo activity ventured by your Nonna on her own, hunched over her kitchen bench. No, Passata Day is a family day. And a day for friends. And sometimes whole villages coming together to make something wonderful and lasting out of something wonderful and temporary.


Italy is famous for many things, and rich tomato-based pasta sauces is definitely high on that list. But the making of these sauces isn’t done as an after thought or last minute; it’s earned a day (or several) and has become an important annual event and tradition for many Italians all over the world.


In Australia tomatoes are in peak season in February, as summer is both at its hottest but coming to an end. At this time of year, Passata can be made in great quantities and used throughout the year by everyone who helps on the day or is lucky enough to be gifted a bottle or jar full. Some larger scale productions have invested in a canner to speed up and sure up the safety and freshness of a large haul.


What is it exactly?

Importantly, what it is NOT, is cheap tomato sauce or salsa you find in Woolies. Passata, which has been prepared, made and bottled by hand, is a tomato purée made from the freshest, ripest tomatoes. When made traditionally it can last for months (sometimes years!) and keep its rich and fresh taste which can be used in a multitude of ways including pasta dishes or as a pizza base. With the skins and seeds removed, its texture is smooth and velvety.


What do you need to host your own Passata Day?

Your famiglia. Whether that be your relatives or your urban family of friends and tag-alongs, you can bring in a crew to create something together and have a lot of fun in the process.


Tomatoes. Obviously. But not just any tomatoes. Get San Marzano if you can, but if not, Roma are frequently used in Australian Passata making. San Marzano are classified as DOP and grow beneath the behemoth of Mount Vesuvius. The volcanic soil is perfect for making the best tomatoes on the planet.


One a smaller scale: a large pot on the stove. On a bigger one: FIRE PIT in the backyard. Be safe and heed fire danger days! Also pairing knives, sterilised bottles or jars with lids, a funnel and a tomato press. Remember: 1kg of tomatoes will grant you 750g of Passata.


So, what’s the process?

Wash your tomatoes and make sure to get out any yuckies which will definitely affect the taste of your Passata. Then blanch them in boiling water to loosen the skins for easy separation.


Using a press, separate the skins and pulp from the flesh and juice: this is what is puréed to make your Passata!


Can or bottle your Passata. You can add a little something something if you like for extra flavour: a basil leaf in each jar will heighten it a little or you can get ahead of the game with some garlic for a kick!


To preserve your Passata, cover the bottles in water and boil for 40 minutes (this pasteurises the mixture). You should use tea towels in the pot to help stop the jars from banging into each other while being boiled as there’s a lot of pressure going on in there to be the best Passata that it can be.


Then: leave them to sleep. One or two days total where you do not bother your Passata, this is very important.


Store in a cool, dark place where it’ll be ready to be the hero of many meals to come!


Join our Famiglia for a day!

Mercato invites you to join us for Passata Day

You can also enjoy in season tomatoes at Mercato today! Buy by the serve for a lunch or dinner our Mercato Made Spaghetti Ragu.This perfect beef and pork Ragu with Granoro Spaghetti is brought together with only the best ripe tomatoes.


If you want those tomatoes *in* *your* *hands* *now* pick up a piece of our Mercato Made Margherita Pizza al Taglio. San Marzano sauce, fresh tomatoes and basil, mozzarella and basil oil!


If you’d like to cook up a storm at home, you can grab some of our own subtly sweet Mercato Passata!  


Sara Best

Traveller of Places, Lover of Wine, Eater of Food, Teller of Stories

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