I have always admired my dear friend Paul’s homemade tomato sauce. However, my attempt to make fresh tomato sauce have not been successful. My kids are so use to eating sauce from a can that they have no idea what a fresh tomato sauce should taste like. Yes, I know this is sad.
So, one day, I coaxed Paul in to coming over to help me make sauce the way his mama taught him. I was so excited. He brought with him his Gulliver manual tomato press,*which looked like a small stainless steel concrete mixer.
“What was this for?” I implored, pointing at this stainless contraption.
Paul replied, “to remove the tomato skins; otherwise the sauce will be bitter.” (Hmmm, I thought. Perhaps, this why my sauce wasn’t so good last year …)
Crank it up
He threw in my heirloom sausage tomatoes, which resemble plum tomatoes, one by one. He cranked the press and squeezed out tomato pulp. This was the first time I had grown this type of tomato thinking that my regular tomatoes may not be good for a hearty sauce. The sausage tomatoes did not have a lot of water, so there was much more pulp.
After we were done, my sauce tasted pretty good. I was sooo hooked. And yes, I wanted a tomato press. Cranking that tomato press looked like a lot of hard work. Paul mentioned during our cooking class that I could buy an electric tomato press. This was for me!
Buy me a tomato press, please.
This summer, I had four eager sausage tomato plants producing like crazy and fall was right around the corner. I turned to my savvy, thrifty hubs and told him to find me an electric press. Over the next couple of weeks, I harvested the tomatoes and froze them on the aluminum tray in the freezer. When they were frozen, I put them in bags since space was limited. (Don’t worry, I washed them for reuse next year.) Peeling off the skins is a snap when they are defrosted.
A few weeks later, a box was perched at the front door. “What’s this?” I questioned. My husband told me it was my tomato press. You would have thought Ed McMahon had shown up at my door with a $1 million dollar check from American Family Publishers since I was so excited. I rushed the box into the kitchen, torn it open, and pulled out my new spanking…
“Wait a minute! This is the same tomato press Paul has. It is manual one!” I shrieked.
Devastated that I could not flaunt my new electric-“I can fry bacon in the morning and bring home the dough at night”-wunder tomato press which makes a zillion pots of sauce with a flip of a switch… Was I not clear? The manual one would be too hard for a southern flower like me to use.
Not skipping a beat, my husband said, “are you kidding. I was not going to buy you an electric one!” (See the Villaware Imperia Spremy Electric Tomato Strainer on Amazon.com.* Pretty amazing looking.) He continued, “they cost over $200!”
“So, how much does did this stainless steel beauty cost?” I questioned. I wavered between not sure if I should be mad at him giving him the “my time is valuable too” stare, but at the same time thinking maybe an electric press was a little frivolous.
He replied, “$50.00. Big difference.” End of story. I knew I was not going to win this argument.
So, I looked at the bright side and said, at least I will be making my sauce in a more eco-friendly way rather than using an electric sucking fantasy appliance.
On to Making the Sauce
I easily peeled the skin off the tomatoes.
Then I threw some tomatoes into the press to separate the seeds from the pulp. (Note, the press is secured to the side of the countertop.) The press wiggles so I have to keep one forearm pressing on the top of the tomato press to keep it from moving. I used my other arm to crank the press. After a few times of cranking I realized that I was making indentation marks on my arm and it started to hurt.
The next batches my husband took over and look at the beautiful puree.
The seeds and some of the pulp were discharged to the back of the tomato press. Paul had taught me to put this leftover pulp back through the press two times to get as more puree.
At the end of the day, we processed about 8 cups of sauce out of four bags of tomatoes.
Clean-up was another matter. The inside of the tomato press contains pulp that is tightly wound around a spring in the center bar. I had to take a toothbrush to try and wiggle the pieces out of the spring. It was a little time consuming and frustrating at times.
Did my kids like the sauce? Not really. They said it tasted funny. My adult friends liked it.
In hindsight, I should have told my kids that Paul, made it. They love his food.
If you want a manual crank,Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker* got better reviews than mine on Amazon.
9/13/2013 Update: I am still using my manual tomato press and can’t complain.
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