Cook what you grow... Tomato Paste

Tomato paste

Tomato paste

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AUTUMN is all about gluts of greenhouse produce, especially tomatoes.

Of course, it’s great to eat them fresh, but think how much you can save by making your own tomato paste, which can then be adapted over winter into pasta, meat and veg sauces, or soups.

It’s based on Tuscan odori, which makes a great base for any savoury dish – finely-diced carrot, onion, celery, flat-leaved parsley and garlic (the first three in approximately equal quantities).

I also leave the tomato skins on, for extra texture and vitamin/mineral content.

The idea is to make it really concentrated, so it takes up as little space as possible in the freezer.

Odori: one onion, carrot, stick of celery, finely chopped; bunch flat-leaved parsley, chopped; 1-3 cloves garlic, according to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3lbs ripe tomatoes, washed

Salt, pepper and sugar (optional), to taste

In a wide, shallow non-stick stockpot, fry the odori in the oil over a medium heat until soft.

Add small tomatoes whole or roughly chop large fruits, removing any hard core. Allow the whole fruits to pop their skins and cook down a little on a medium heat, then with a potato masher, gently squash the fruit to extract their juice.

Season with salt and pepper. If your tomatoes are very acidic or from the supermarket, a large pinch of sugar will balance acidity or boost flavour.

Leave to reduce on a very low heat with the pan lid off for a couple of hours, or more if necessary, stirring occasionally, until as thick as chutney.

Pack into boxes, cool completely, label and freeze.