Nothing marks the end of summer to me like the age old tradition of making tomato sauce, or rather tomato passata. Like many of my friends and family, I spent Labour Day weekend, sorting, washing, cooking, pressing and canning fresh fragrant tomatoes, for consumption during the cold winter months. Nothing like the sweet smell and taste of freshly made tomato sauce in the dead of winter!
Although there are several hundred varieties of tomatoes, to make passata I used San Marzano tomatoes. According to my mother and several other experienced sauce makers, San Marzano’s sweeter tasting and lower acidity tomatoes will give you the best tasting sauce. And I am all for a great tasting sauce!
As many of you know, tomatoes are a rich source of nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, biotin, molybdenum, potassium, copper, some B vitamins and folate, to name a few . Tomatoes however, are best known for their high lycopene content. Lycopene belongs to a family of carotenoid antioxidants that are responsible for the deep red colour seen in fruits and vegetables like tomatoes. Lycopene acts as a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damage.
Lycopene is also an important nutrient in cardiovascular health. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, “lycopene has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and their extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Also, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood, a factor in heart problems such as atherosclerosis.”
Lycopene is a fat- soluble nutrient that is best absorbed in the presence of a fat such as olive oil. Absorption is also increased by cooking the tomatoes rather than consuming them raw. Having said that, raw tomatoes are still nutritious and should not be discouraged,especially if you have children that prefer their tomatoes raw.
However you decide to eat them, fresh or cooked, tomatoes make a great topping for pizza, or can be added to salads, soups, stews and of course made into sauce and served over your favourite pasta!
For instructions on canning tomatoes or any safety concerns you may have about canning, please check out these websites.
Linda @The Wholesome Kitchen