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food mill - tomatoes - help

Ordinarily, for tomato sauce for pastas, I would just puree the canned tomatoes in a blender, which works okay for getting a sauce-like texture. However, I just bought a food mill (Oxo), and milled the tomatoes. Tomatoes came out as juice, which was not what I was expecting. Is this normal, or, did I somehow do something wrong? I used the middle disc (not the finest, not the coarsest).

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  1. I think that I use the coarsest disc, and I usually use the food mill after cooking the sauce. It usually still has texture to it.

    1. Yes it's normal. You just need to cook that juice down to the desired consistency.

      1. What kind of tomatoes are you processing? If you're looking for a sauce that starts out fairly thick before it's cooked, you need a low-moisture sauce tomato, such as the Roma. Salad tomatoes have too high a water content.

        I have an Italian-made mill that is designed just for tomato processing; it kicks the skins and seeds out the side and puts just juice and pulp into the bowl. Relatively cheap, made of plastic, easy to clean.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          Tomatoes are Muir Glen plum variety, supposedly low-moisture. What brand is your mill?

          1. re: Will Owen

            Where do you buy such a thing? I have been wanting one for years.

            1. re: sarah galvin

              I don't remember where I got it - it was some sort of commercial sale, not a yard sale, because it had never been used. "Super Passapomidoro Velox Universal" is what it's called on the box; "Per Alimenti" is embossed in small script on the machine, but that just means "for food"...like, duh. Copious instructions/descriptions in four or five languages, detailed line drawings, stuff like that. It's nicely made, body of polypropylene, nylon drum rotates with sprung steel blades to do the scraping, and a stainless-steel screen through which the pulp and juice are forced. It was insanely cheap, and I don't imagine the full retail price would have been more than $25 or so. Go spend some time with Google, is my suggestion.

                1. re: sarah galvin

                  Neglected to look on the other side of the box, where the machine is identified as a "Passatutto" rather than "Passapomidori", thus claiming a range of use beyond just tomatoes (plus photo of machine with a pile of different vegetables in the hopper). If you're Googling you might try both names. And now that you've awakened my curiosity, so will I...

                2. re: Will Owen

                  About that same food mill... I borrowed one and I'm in the middle of running some tomatoes through. The tomatoes have been quickly blanched and I've removed the skins myself, rather than having the press do it. But it looks to me like there's quite a bit of tomato pulp coming through with the seeds. I'm tempted to take the seed mixture and pass it through the mill one more time. Is there a benefit to doing that?

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    Yes, I highly recommend two passes to get all the juice and essence from the pulp..

            2. Thanks a mill-ion for all your responses. I'll just keep plugging away.

              1. I've used the Williams Sonoma tomato mill with San Marzano's for a few years now. Yes, the mill extracts most of the skin and seeds and produces a juice or puree. I find that it's helpful to mill the remnants one more time to extract all the essence of the fruit. This makes the juice much richer when reduced. Sorta like what happens when pressing the skins of grapes for red wine.

                As clamscasino says, the trick is to reduce the sauce. This should be done in part in the pan or the pot when the juice is introduced to thinly sliced garlic sauteed in olive oil with, crusched red pepper, salt, oregano and/or fresh thyme (or whatever else you start with). It will reduce further when the starch in the wet pasta combines with the sauce. Unlike the traditional Italian "gravy" this sauce sticks to the pasta with a silky sheen. A few cups of the milled sauce are usually sufficient for a pound of pasta if it's going to be served and eaten immediately from the finishing pan. If you're planning on letting it sit for any period of time you may need to increase the amount of sauce to avoid the pasta from becoming dry. The goal is for the pasta to be wet but not drenched.

                You could also mill larger batches of sauce to produce a more traditional soupy sauce. But I find that you lose the silkiness since the pasta is swimming in the sauce rather than the sauce sticking to the pasta portions.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pondrat

                  As a sidenote, I find adding sliced cherry tomatoes at the first reduction stage can give the best of both worlds... smooth sticky sauce and some texture to compliment it...Whole foods has excellent canned cherry tomatoes if you don't want to go the fresh route.