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Proper way to puree tomatoes?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
The past few months I’ve been trying to duplicate the complimentary salsa that was served at a little Mexican restaurant my family and I ate at when I was young. I’ve finally got it down and it turned out to be very simple:

1 can of diced tomatoes, pureed until smooth
½ jalapeno, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
1 TBSP onions, diced
Chili powder
Cumin

I puree the canned tomatoes in a food processor until they are smooth, then add in the jalapeno, chopped tomato and onion, then season to taste. This gives me the exact texture I want but would prefer to make this with fresh tomatoes.

When I’ve tried pureeing fresh I get a frothy mixture with too much air in it. Even after I let it rest in the fridge for a few hours it’s still to airy.

Any suggestions on how to successful puree fresh tomatoes without incorporating too much air into them?


Thanks,
Emily
post #2 of 21
A food mill is your best best.

--Al
post #3 of 21
Hi Emily,

Personally i'd rather chop the salsa by hand. I know the following may not be a puree as such, but the longer you work it the finer it becomes. I do like using canned tomatoes, but i use 1/2n1/2 canned and fresh.

Skin and quarter tomatoes and drain the juice from the can (keep the juice for another occasion)
Put them on a large chopping board with a roughly chopped red onion, garlic and a chilli and any herbs you want. I like parsley and cilantro

The next bit's messy . I use a mezzaluna, or a big chefs knife works fine. Just rock the blade until you get the required consistency. I actually find it quite theraputic .

I scrape this into a bowl and add a spoonful of any homemade chutney S&P

Hope that helps.
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post #4 of 21
instead of hitting the puree button try mix or blend or try an immersion blender.
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post #5 of 21
You might try cooking the tomatoes gently. First peel and seed them, dice, and cook in a skillet just to thicken a bit. Then puree them -- an immersion blender or a processor will introduce less air than a regular blender, I find. Let cool, then add your raw ingredients.

Another approach is to broil the tomatoes with their skins on until blackened all over, then put them in a plastic bag to cool. Once cool, the skins will come off easily and the tomatoes will have a deeper flavor than before. Puree them, seeds and all, in a processor and add raw ingredients for taste and texture. The broiling also gets rid of some of the excess liquid, and should give you the right texture more easily.

I seem to recall that tomato salsa is often made this way in Sonora, where it is also usually quite mild in terms of heat level.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
What great suggestions- thank you!

Bughut- I do make other salsa's where I finely chop the tomatoes by hand with a chef's knife but this salsa has a very runny consistency that I'm looking for. Maybe it's the fond childhood memories it brings back but I love how different it is from other salsa recipes.

I think the immersion blender after roasting or sauteing the tomatoes would be a great option to try next. I also have a small food mill that I'll try as well.

Thank you all- I can't wait to experiment a little more!

Emily
post #7 of 21
You can use the food processor on pulse, instead of letting it run full speed ahead. With the pulse feature, the food is allowd to stop swirling and settle, forcing the air out, instead of incorporating it into the puree. It will take you a little longer, but as Alton Brown would say, "your patience will be rewarded". :lips:
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post #8 of 21
Have you tried chopping by hand, then pressing through a sieve? Pretty old school but might do the trick.
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post #9 of 21
....with a ladle...lightly reduce before or after?

The simplest fix from old school kiwis :D
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post #10 of 21
Best way, IMHO, is a "food mill", removes the seeds and skins.
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post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I haven't tried a food mill or pressing through a seive- both are great ideas and I'm sure one of these ideas will give me the texture I'm looking for from the fresh tomatoes. I'll start experimenting and let you know which one worked out. Thank you, thank you!

In real life, I personally don't know any chef's and just LOVE this forum. I search through the archives often and have learned so much from all of you- thank you! I feel at home here with everyone's passion for food. All of you have taught me how to expand and create more in the kitchen, I love it! Thank you.

Emily
post #12 of 21
Use the food mill and let the tomato sit in the fridge overnight. It will separate the excess liquid so you can skim it off.
post #13 of 21
From what I understand, all canned tomatoes are cooked to some extent before they are canned so that's probably why they're not as runny. So Chris' suggestion to cook your fresh tomatoes would seem wise.
Also, for tomato based sauces of any kind, many people actually prefer canned tomatoes to fresh. I believe the reason is because typically fresh tomatoes are a) picked while still unripe so as to aid in transporting, and b) gased with ehtylene en route to our produce markets to become shiny red and ripe just in time for sale. As such, many cooks are of the opinion that canned tomatoes are of better quality in that they haven't been nearly as "messed" with and so their flavor is, well, more tomatoey. Personally, I tried making marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes and didn't really like the outcome. But with canned tomatoes, my sauce was much better indeed. Good luck.
post #14 of 21
I have a way that would rock for you, and it comes from Tom Collichio of Top Chef:

Cut your tomatoes in half through the vine end. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay cut side down on a baking sheet with some parchment paper. Toss in sprigs oif thyme and cloves of garlic. Roast 10 minutes at 350 F until the skins are blistered. Remove the skins, then lower the temp in the oven to 275 F. Pour off the liquid of the tomatoes and reserve. Continue roasting the tomatoes, pouring off the liquid every 20 minutes for an additional 40-50 minutes. The tomatoes should be almost dry at this point. Remove garlic cloves - reserve for another use. Remove thyme sprigs.

At that point, you could puree the tomatoes and have a deep, rich flavor. Note, you can use a bit of the tomato liquid if you want to thin the consistency out.

Barring that, if you would like, you can also freeze the tomatoes like that, and they will keep up to six months in the freezer.

Hope that helps.
Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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Jason Sandeman

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post #15 of 21
At this consistancy I would almost call this a seasoned paste or concentrate instead of puree. But instead of boiling or cooking off the liquid you are pouring it off.
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post #16 of 21
Thing is, you are roasting the tomatoes before you puree them. IIRC, tomato paste is usually done with puree that is cooked down. This goes in a different direction, leaving you with the juice to do something else with - flavoring sauce, making a vinaigrette. Also, it makes it so that you are not getting that slightly bitter taste.

Also, like puree, it will last up to a week in the fridge. They also taste **** good in a BLT, or a burger!
Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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Jason Sandeman

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post #17 of 21
A molcajete is your friend. I char my tomatoes on the grill first and the grind them in this:

molcajete y tejolote lava stone 8" 2 1/2 to 3 cup

You can find these a lot cheaper in latino markets. 40 bucks is just silly.
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have a mortar pestle I use often to grind spices but never thought to grind up tomatoes- interesting idea! Thanks!
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
I got out the food mill, immersion blender, mortar and pestle and sieve today spent the evening testing textures. I broiled tomatoes and sautéed some diced tomatoes. I tested fresh tomatoes along with frozen, then started combining suggestions and came up with a winner. The texture is absolutely perfect and my husband said it’s the best salsa he has ever had!

Here is the winning combination:

10 roma tomatoes, diced and sautéed over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain and discard excess liquid, then continue cooking tomatoes for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then press through a fine sieve. Discard skins and seeds. Add a finely diced jalapeno, diced onions and one diced fresh tomato. Season generously with chili powder, cumin and salt.

I know this is an unusual salsa but we really like it. Thank you so much for helping me get that exact texture we were looking for!

Earlier this week I also had a great breakthrough in making flour tortillas. I’ve been making them for the past 6 years but just this past week I was finally able to get them to be just like the ones in Mexico. It has taken years of trial and error and trying new things to finally be where the recipe is at.

This is what I LOVE about cooking. This week has been incredibly rewarding to FINALLY get flour tortillas tasting better than I have ever had and to finally get this salsa exactly how we like it! Thank you again!

Emily
post #20 of 21
I am glad that it worked out for you. In the end, if the experience is something that you all can remember, then the trial and error was worth it.

Care to share the tortilla recipe?
Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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Jason Sandeman

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post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Here you go:



Flour tortillas

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cups warm water
2 TBSP oil (can reduce to 1 TBSP)

Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine (or mix by hand). Combine warm water with oil and gradually mix in. Pulse just until a ball of dough forms, then remove from food processor and knead for 10-20 seconds (knead only enough to combine the dough. Tortilla dough will not roll out well if gluten is developed. It does not need to be kneaded like bread dough, think of the dough more like a cracker dough that just needs to be well combined).

Divide into 6-8 rounded balls (a little smaller than a golf ball) and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes under a damp cloth. Flour surface and roll into a thin tortilla. Roll dough into an even oval shape, turn 45 degrees, then roll into a larger oval, turn 45 degrees and roll into a nice round shape. If you don’t get the tortilla thin enough after your three rolls, repeat rolling dough into an oval shape, then turning 45 degrees until you get a 9” thin round shape. Preheat a large skillet to medium heat, then cook each tortilla for 1 minute (20 seconds on one side, then flip and cook for 20 seconds, flip once more and cook for an additional 20 seconds). The tortilla should bubble a little and should have light brown spots. Store warm tortillas under a dry cloth while the others cook. Freezes well.

We met a women from Mexico that had been rolling out tortilla's since she was 3 years old. Her favorite rolling pin was the handle of a broomstick her husband cut off and sanded for her. Since I met her, I use a 1 ¼ inch wooden dowel to roll them out, it works better than all the rolling pins I’ve used over the years.

Thanks, Emily
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