This is not going to be a precise recipe, since I don’t have one. A friend told me how to do this, and his instructions were vague. I googled, but nothing I found gave me a recipe the way I wanted it, neither in English nor German. So I just gave it a shot.
First off, you need a personal tomato plantation.
Barring that, you need a lot of tomatoes. Very ripe, sweet, juicy tomatoes. I doubt if store-bought would work, but maybe farmers market.
Ok, maybe not that many tomatoes.
These are the leftover tomatoes from the first batch I made, so not that many either. But you get the idea.
Next step, wash half a sinkful of tomatoes, enough to fill the biggest pot you have. Cut them in half and throw them in the big pot with perhaps an inch of water and some salt. If the tomatoes are ripe enough, they will create their own juice — and that’s the point! Turn the heat on low and allow them to come to a boil. When the tomatoes are soft and the skins can easily be removed, turn the heat off and let the tomatoes cool.
In my experience, at this point I need a second pot, because the tomatoes are so soupy by now I will never be able to siphon off the clear liquid. Transfer the solids (including whatever liquid comes along) to the second pot and stack them up to one side. Leave these stewed tomatoes to sit for a couple of hours.
(The liquid left in the first pot could theoretically also be siphoned off with cheesecloth, but that’s too much waste for me. I prefer to run it through a sieve and boil it down to a thick tomato sauce.)
Anyway, back to the solids. When you check these out again, you will see that on the empty side of the pot, a clear liquid that looks almost like water has risen to the surface. Carefully skim this liquid off and transfer it to another pot, sending it through a strainer first. This is where the patience become necessary. The longer you let them sit, the more of this nearly clear liquid the tomatoes will secrete. I tend to keep going back to this during the course of a day or two. The “tomato water” that I end up with still isn’t perfect though, so I then strain that through a paper towel. I’m sure cheesecloth would work just as well, if not better, but that’s not readily available in any of the stores I frequent.
Once the liquid has gone through the paper towel or the cheesecloth (I usually have to do it several times because the filter clogs up), you will have something that looks only a shade darker than water.
This I now boil down to perhaps a fourth of the original amount. When it’s done, it will be an amazing golden color, and will taste like the most intense tomato experience you’ve ever had. I don’t add anything other than salt. I boiled it with a garlic clove once, and it tasted wonderful, but if you want garlic, you can always add that later.
I freeze this as a basis for winter soups, a wonderful reminder of summer. My family really likes the tomato consomme with dumplings made of cream cheese and fresh basil. I also freeze the stewed tomatoes and the tomato sauce, and for years now, it’s been enough to tide us through the winter. I can’t remember the last time I bought canned tomatoes, but I do remember that when I did, they tasted wrong to me.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, but the taste of that liquid essence of tomato is amazing. 🙂