1. Pick the Best Machine for Your Needs
When it comes to a tomato milling machine it's all about selecting a quality made unit that suits your needs. Customers sometimes mistakenly buy a system that is over and above what they actually need.
First, manual units are perfect for beginners and people with personal use gardens because the user can load the tomatoes and keep the pressure on at their own speed. Pacing one's self is easy with a manual unit because no motor is involved. Now, when moving onto a motorized unit, the user no longer sets the pace, you'll want to keep up with the motor and the quantity that can fit down the SP hopper.
One key thing to remember is that each of the Fabio Leonardi motors rotate at the same speed, even with different HP's. Where the power comes into play is the ability to work through jams or overheating through continuous/frequent use. This means motor size is not the influencing factor in rate of output. In fact, it's the neck size which determines production rate. Compare the neck size between the three Fabio SP units (SP2, SP3 and SP5) note the per hour production associated when combined with a motor. Similarly, review the two O.M.R.A models 2400 versus the 2500 and their respective production rates. Use these figures as a gauge when selecting your unit.
It's important to note that an electric machine doesn't take away work; it just makes production more consistent. It's like automating a hand crank model. However, with this automation comes the responsibility of keeping up! The unit's neck should remain full or desired results may not occur. Note: If you run the unit without tomatoes, the motor may get damaged (which may void any warranty).
For those seasoned users who are considering moving beyond their manual models, TomatoMilling.com specialists suggest Fabio Leonardi MR2 with SP2 attachment or the MR0 with SP3 attachment; from the OMRA product line 2400/2500 models. These models are efficient machines but are easier for the home user to keep up with, while still handling bushels of tomatoes at a time. The MR2 and 2500 are known for being the easiest to keep up with.
2. Understand the Nature of Tomatoes
One of the key factors when it comes to Tomato Milling is adapting to the tomato you're working with. According to the British Tomato Growers' Association, "Water content is between 93-95% of total fruit composition." A tomato's water content changes by variety, seasonal fluctuations and if it's home grown or store brought. In general, the rule of thumb is . . . store brought tomatoes have exterior skins that tend to be firmer and contain more water. They are purposefully grown to have more water because farmers get paid by weight and water weighs down the tomato helping them make more money when selling to stores. Store brought tomato "meat" is also firmer and generally less flavorful. The end result when using store brought is that they are less productive during the milling process.
Nurition Data has made the water content available for several varieties. Select yours from the dropdown menu and then scroll to the "other" chart for water info. Compare between other tomato varieties to see the variation of water retention.
3. The Spiral & How It Affects Milling
As a result of metal on metal contact, a new tomato milling machine is more than likely going to produce metal shards in the first few batch of tomatoes. Users are strongly encouraged to toss these batches. As an alternative, instead of going through perfectly edible tomatoes, our specialist recommends placing a coat of olive oil over the screen as a lubricant and then running moistened stale bread until there are no more shavings. The moistened mixture should be half water, half stale bread. It's a cost effective way to break in the machine!
The spiral plays an integral role in milling. With help from the motor, it helps move the tomatoes through the unit, out the screen and dispose of the unwanted seeds/dense pulp and skin out the tip. When enclosed the spiral has chambers or pockets which help create resistance, forcing the tomatoes to breakdown and separate.
Because of this important process of movement, pressure and separation, the spiral should be inspected for signs of wear. It's time to replace the spiral when it offers less resistance to the motor and more pulp than usual comes out of the end/refuse.
4. Tomato Preparation
Because of the water content within tomatoes, water reduction may be desired to obtain better milling results. Since some canners prefer to blanch their tomatoes to obtain the most amount of pulp (or to soften the exterior texture of store brought tomatoes). There are a few methods to reduce the water.
5. Milling Result
The spiral is specially designed to create its own pressure, but your assistance is still needed. Feed tomatoes into the hopper and use the accompanied plunger (included with most electric models) to push down the whole tomatoes. The reason we suggest whole tomatoes instead of cutting them into pieces is because the skin holds together and goes through with more pressure and better results.
The milling machine will work to puree the tomatoes by passing it down the neck, through the spiral, out the screen, down the chute and into your bowl. In most cases, the refuse pulp can be run through a second time to obtain more usable puree.
Your final milled result is the base for many delicious recipes. This puree is not seasoned or cooked, therefore where as it may be a base for tomato sauce, it still needs to be worked with and developed into a sauce. Visit our recipe page for instructions on preparing homemade tomato sauce.