Culture Recipes

Nonna’s Homemade Passata 🍅🥫

Making passata is a family tradition for most Italians!

If making passata with your summer harvest of garden tomatoes isn’t already a tradition in your family, it should be! Every Italian I know harvests their tomatoes and jars the sauce so they can use it throughout winter. This is my family’s way of making passata, passed down from my grandmother and great grandmother from Italy. We plant San Marzano seeds from Italy and we also have romas and cherry tomatoes. We like to separate the San Marzanos from the rest because we use the San Marzano sauce for pizza specifically. The most important part of this recipe is sunshine because the tomatoes have to be very ripe! Depending on your yield, you’ll need several (or several dozen) airtight mason jars. This is an all day project (typically on family Sunday) and requires lots of vino and snacks! Does your family make passata? Let us know in the comments below!


  • Very ripe, freshly picked tomatoes
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Fresh basil leaves (a few leaves per jar)
  • Sterilized airtight jars


  1. Once you have picked all of your tomatoes, let them sit in the sun for about an hour or two.
  2. Discard stalks and chop tomatoes in half. Discard seeds and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain for an hour. Note: We usually set the tomatoes on wire racks over deep pans to let the tomatoes drain into. This will prevent sauce from being too watery. 
  3. In a large pot (or a few depending on the yield), heat tomatoes over low heat until they cook down a bit. 
  4. Using a tomato strainer, ladle tomatoes into the pass and create a puree. If you don’t have a tomato strainer these are some good options!
  5. Place a few basil leaves at the bottom of the sterile jars and pour tomato sauce over them. Fill up to about an inch below the brim. Add another basil leaf or two and seal the jars with the lid.
  6. Using a few large pots, place a clean dry cloth at the bottom of each. Gently place jars into the pot and wrap another clean dry cloth around the jars (so they do not crash into each other while boiling).  Note: You can use a sous vide and a large plastic bin for this process as well (185 C for 1 hour).
  7. Fill the pot with water covering the jars completely.
  8. Bring water to a boil and boil for atleast 45 minutes. 
  9. Let the jars sit in the water until it has cooled completely and remove. The cooling process will vacuum seal the jars, allowing them to be shelf stable for up to a year.
  10. Store in a cool, dry place. Once opened, consume within 5 days. 


  • Featured and main photo (Pxhere)

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