The Cottage Smallholder

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The slow cooker chef: Easy passata recipe


Photo: Tomatoes ripening

Photo: Tomatoes ripening

“Now you are going to see a piece of kitchen equipment that hasn’t been used for twelve years.”
Danny was goggle eyed as I moved the Wellington boots to access the kitchen cupboard. I’d remembered that years ago Seraphina had given me a food mill for pureeing apples. It was right at the back – a bit dusty but complete with a range of three grinding disks. After a few minutes I worked out how to assemble the beast and clipped it onto a saucepan. I glanced at the handle – this was an Italian model reassuringly named Passatuttu. Perfect.

I was making passata. Again.

Passata (sieved tomatoes) is an essential ingredient in the cottage kitchen. I’ve tried not using it in pasta sauces, supplementing tomato puree instead but the softness and richness is lost.

This year I was determined to make my own. I looked in my Italian cook books and drew a blank. Then I scuttled about on the internet and began to realise that I was searching for something so obvious that people don’t really need a recipe. Basically you need a non reactive saucepan, a sieve or food mill and at least a kilo and a half (3 lbs) of tomatoes.

Initially I simmered the tomatoes in a large open and pressed them through a metal sieve. They were OK and could be useful in a “we’ve run out of passata drama”.
But it would have to be a real emergency as they were a tad tasteless and watery.

Surely I could make something better than that? I decided to use the slow cooker as it seems to be the perfect receptacle for enhancing flavours. I added garlic, balsamic vinegar and a large pinch of celery salt. The result was astonishingly good. However this is recipe is only practical if you have a glut of tomatoes or can buy them cheap in bulk as 1.5 kilos of fruit only produced 700 ml of passata.

On the food mill front, I was astonished how effective it was. Perfect for preparing pulp for fruit cheese. No more tedious sieving for me. It was great to use a well designed machine that doesn’t need electricity for a change. Unfortunately I can’t find my one for sale on the internet. Amazon has something similar here. Lakeland has the tomato master on sale for £9.99.

Easy Passata recipe


  • 1.5 kilos of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large pinch of celery salt
  • 5 cloves of garlic (this seems a lot but the passata doesn’t taste garlicy)


  1. Place all the ingredients to your slow cooker. Set the heat to high and let the tomatoes cook for an hour (lid on).
  2. Then turn the heat to low and cook for a further hour.
  3. Either sieve the tomatoes to remove the skins and seeds or pass the tomatoes through a food mill.
  4. Return the tomatoes to the slow cooker and simmer on high, with the lid off, for a couple of hours to let the sauce thicken. Taste and season if necessary.
  5. Pour into hot sterilised jars with lids and process using the hot water bath, for 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the jars.
  6. Having mastered this is a great excuse to finally invest in a pasta machine!

  Leave a reply


  1. Nicola E

    Just discovered this post having need for a recipe to clear the tomato glut … so the tomatoes have been simmered, sieved, and now are thickening! It looks and tastes great – I even indulged in a bowl of tomato soup midway! Never tried preserving in bottles before so can anyone let me know how long it will keep?

  2. THANK YOU!!!

    It’s a recipe that’s so simple it barely exists anywhere and the ones that there are are small essays not simple recipes.

    You gem.

    I added a load of basil and parsley stalks to mine too, which worked a treat.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Camilla

    I’m so sorry but I missed your comment. That sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi KarenO

    I’m going to try this with my next batch of tomatoes from the garden.

  4. Camilla’s recipe is similar to one of Monty Don’s but you add loads of basil before baking. (Hope that doesn’t break any copyright laws). We make this then eat it whole, skins and all stirred into pasta – it’s delicious – wish Lidl would put their vine tomatoes back down to 79p per kilo again!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Michelle NZ

    I’m loving my food mill too. Such a handy bit of equipment.

    Hi Susan

    I think using the slow cooker makes all the difference.

    Hi Joanna

    I also want a tomato glut ?

    Celery seeds would work as well plus a little salt. I’m in the process of drying celery to make my own vegetable stock powder and celery salt.

    Good luck with the polytunnel.

    Hi Catalina

    I want a tomato glut too.

    Hello Veronica

    I’m trying to avoid using the freezer this year. I really enjoy looking at the jars in the barn – sad or what!

    Hi Rachel

    My mum had one too back in the pre food processor days. eBay is always my first port of call for bargains.

    Hi S.o.L

    That’s a very swanky one.

    Hello Pebbledash

    Must try using it for mashed potatoes. We use a ricer at the moment but this would mean that I could boil the spuds with the skins on – nifty.

    Hi Joanna

    I haven’t been successful growing celery too.

    Hello Susan

    Thanks for leaving an update on how you got on – love the idea of adding a red pepper. Homemade baked beans are the best!

    Hi Sophie
    I think that our mill will be used regularly from now on. I didn’t put it back in the cupboard and it’s hanging near the stove.

  6. Hi, brilliant blog, this is my first comment here, so hope this isn’t an old suggestion but another amazing passata recipe is to cut the tomatoes in half and put in a baking dish cut side up, put some chopped garlic, olive oil and S&P on top and roast them in the oven for about an hour at a medium heat until they’re giving off some juice and the skins are blackening. I then just mash them through a sieve as my cottage kitchen hasn’t stretched to a mouli yet! It tastes AMAZING! I then freeze it. You could add any herbs etc that are lying about.

  7. I hadn’t thought of passata – a great idea for using up a tomato glut. I imagine a food mill would be handy for fruit butter type recipes too, to get a nice smooth finish.

    This is my first year tomato growing so I’ve only had enough to eat fresh but will bookmark for next year.

  8. OMG, this was so incredibly easy to make and tasted fab.

    I used my batch to make a big massive pot of home made baked beans. I had haricot beans in the cupboard and they aren’t half bad!

    Not like commercial baked beans though, the kids won’t like them, but the adults certainly do! I sent my wee bro home with a big pot to enjoy.

    Def a recipe I will make again. Oh and I added a red pepper to my version as it was sitting in the fridge and about to go off.

  9. Hi Veronica. Good suggestion but I have a feeling they don’t have even celery in my local supermarket as I live in rural Latvia. I could probably get it if I went to one of the large supermarkets or I could grow my own but I haven’t been successful with celery in the past and my dear husband is not keen of it either :o(

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