The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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. Pebbledash

    I love my mouli – great for purees, and fab mashed potato. Mine wasn’t expensive – I think it’s a moulinex. My tomato crop isn’t abundant enough for passata.

  2. We have this one

    We inherited it because my sister couldnt get on with it making baby food. She bought it so they could take it on holiday or to a restaurant. Mad but true, my family dont believe in cooking different things for children. Hence we are scared for life! LMAO

  3. I remember my mu setting up the Mouli and getting me to puree chutneys and sauces, I’m willing to bett it would be great for passata (and you can buy them on places like eBay!)

  4. Yes, the traditional mouli is great for this — unlike a blender, it keeps back all the seeds and skins, so you can just chuck the tomatoes into the pan whole or roughly chopped.

    I keep my passata in the freezer rather than bottling it, it saves the second stage of processing.

    Joanna, why don’t you just add a little chopped celery to the pan? I’m sure it would work just as well.

  5. A-ha! I am off to steal my mother’s food mill!
    Thanks for the recipe.
    I need something new to try, because the tomatoes are NOT stopping!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ericmaude

    Lakeland are doing the same one for half price.
    But it doesn’t have very good reviews.

  7. Ericamaude

    Ascotts sell a fantastic italian passata machine.

    It’s so efficient you could makes tons of passata in one go.

  8. I am so pleased you added this one. We are organising a humungous polytunnel this year with another one to follow in Spring, part of it will be to be used for storage but some of it is for tomatoes as I intend to be self-sufficient in tomato sauce for pasta dishes, in other words I fully intend to have a glut of tomatoes next year for that specific reason. Just need to find celery salt but not sure if I will be able to find it here, maybe have to stock up when we next go to the UK.

  9. I’ve just dragged my slow cooker out of the cupboard to make this. I’ll let you know how I get on!

  10. Michelle in NZ

    Mmmmmmm, Fiona strikes again with another simple method for something incredibly flavoursome.

    I use my food mill a lot as it will retain all the fibreous bits that cause me problems when I make soups over winter. And the turning action warms me up.

    Will be saving this recipe for Dad’s tomato glut come March. Many thanks.

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