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Passata machine

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Post by Ploshkin on 4th October 2017, 11:01 am

Chilli Head, I know you have posted on here about your passata mill that you got from Seeds of Italy but the search on here won't find anything about passata.
I've just had a very frustrating hour or so trying to process a load of tomatoes.  I use a food mill (decent quality) but it just takes forever.  I find that it mostly just whizzes the bits round and round and unless I poke them under the edge of the rotating bit nothing gets squished.
I did quarter and cook the tomatoes, big paste variety, for a short time so they were just starting to soften.  I also drained the watery liquid off.  After all the effort I still end up with something more akin to tomato juice than what I think of as passata and I'm sure more could be got from the debris.  I did consider using the plate with the larger holes but that would let the pips through.  I actually ended up pre mashing them with a hand blender before putting them in the food mill.  I probably ended up with half my kitchen utensils out.
So, do you consider the passata machine a worthwhile investment and is it useful for anything else?  Do you cook first, drain or reduce anything and what sort of consistency is your resulting stuff?
A problem I have is shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand either having tendonitis or hovering on the verge of it so anything that reduces arm use is worth considering.
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Post by Chilli-head on 4th October 2017, 11:29 am

This is what I have: Seeds of Italy page

Looks like this:


Now, although it looks rather plasticky, it does seem to have lasted a few years now.  The mechanism is a drum, from which protrude a pair of sprung loaded vanes.  They grab the tomatoes from the hopper at the top, then press them against a perforated bit of stainless at the bottom.  This curves to get nearer to the drum as the tomatoes are carried round, so the paste gets pressed out, then finally the skin and seeds eject from the side chute as seen.

The tomatoes need to be cut up if they are big, and softened a bit in a pan, but not so much as to lose the fresh tomato taste.  The seperation is not perfect, so the "waste" from the first pass is best put through again, this gives a thicker paste.  Also, it can't do anything about the amount of juice in the tomatoes, so if you don't use a good paste type (I like San Marzano best, but Red Pear is good as dual purpose paste/eating), you can get watery juice.  I (or more likely Mrs C-H) usually reduce it by simmering to make a pasta sauce. The thinner versions are great for making Indian tomato rasam (a hot tomato soup).

Any other downsides ? It is not huge (though I notice they now have a large version), normal domestic scales only, maybe aimed at making a pint rather than a gallon !  It fixes to the worktop with a lever operated sucker, which requires a fairly smooth and impervious surface.  Worth thinking about if you have wooden or very textured worktops. As with all kitchen gadgets, there is also some cleaning up to do afterwards, but it pretty much all comes to pieces.

Oh, it does seem to do some other things, basically it is a mechanical way of passing something sloppy through a sieve. I have used it in jam making before now to remove skins from softened apricots, and even quinces (well softened !).
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Post by Ploshkin on 4th October 2017, 12:21 pm

Thanks Chilli Head.  That sounds like the way to go.  I think the problem with the food mill is that there is nothing to grab the stuff (I like the sound of the grabber) and the perforated plates are too smooth for something a bit fibrous and there isn't really much pressure for forcing stuff through the holes.  I only do paste type toms for passata.  The ones I have this year are Big Mama, and they are big.
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