Monday, June 22, 2009


When James was here last summer, he would look at my lovely tomato-squashing machine, shake his head and declare that he dreaded the day when I would get it out and start sauce-making in earnest! Well, for various reasons - vergogna [shame on me] - I didn't get around to it last year so now I'm having to make up for that. This post is for Omnium, who wants the recipe, M , who wants to know what I'm making with the 3 crates of tomatoes I bought, Leslie who wanted to know about the process and, of course, all my other lovely readers.

One of my favourite cooks is Keith Floyd, because he likes a bit of "bunging" and "throwing" and does not always give precise quantities and times, knowing that much depends on your oven or hob's temperament as well as your own, the size of the ingredients you have got, your common sense and even the climate in which you are cooking. So I use his recipe as a basis and then very much do my own thing. I'm not saying that there isn't a place for the precision of the blessed Delia: in fact, thinking that a CBE [a British honour] was a bit miserly of Her Britannic Majesty, I nearly started a "Make Delia a Dame" group on facebook, only I belong to a "Procrastination" group on there as well, so I procrastinated. And now I'm digressing [maybe I should start a "Digression" group?] so let's get to work:

Rosa sorting tomatoes.

First of all, you need all saucepans on deck to bring the tomatoes to the boil:

Rosa and I processed about a third of the tomatoes in the crates on Friday, so we will need a couple more sessions. For the purpose of giving quantities here, let's assume that you have about 4 kilos of tomatoes. Throw all of these into water in the biggest pans you have got and bring to the boil. They should just soften. Rinse them in a large colander under cold water [be careful!] and then chuck them into the machine. [If you don't have one of these I suggest you process half this quantity at a time. You will have to get the peel off by hand and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Some people can achieve this result using a mouli but I have not been successful.] Put the juice back into pans.

I make with the machine.

It requires mathematical precision to line everything up for minimal mess!

The sauce is back in the pans.

In a small pan, heat 2 tablesp olive oil and add a large, chopped onion and a fat, chopped clove of garlic. Fry until they are softened and transparent, then add them to the juice in the pans. [Sometimes I fry a finely chopped red chilli pepper as well to make a spicy sauce.] Into each pan of sauce chuck a few chopped basil leaves, some oregano if you like [I do] 2 teasp brown sugar, a few drops balsamic or red wine vinegar plus seasalt and freshly ground black pepper. Oh, nearly forgot: I like to add a dollop of 'strattu [tomato paste] to each pan:

Simmer for about an hour or until you have a beautifully thick tomato sauce. The Sicilian women bottle theirs and go through that sterilising process with the bottles in a pan lined with and separated by newspaper or cardboard but I freeze my sauce in varying quantities.

You may like to look at this post, where you can see some photos of 'strattu being made.


PinkAcorn said...

I see your wearing a sleeveless top...I imagine your kitchen was pretty warm with all those burners on!!! My kitchen is boiling when I'm preserving apricots and plums..whew!

Maria said...

OK... I would have never thought to add the balsalmic vinegar or the brown sugar... I obviously am missing something... How interesting!!! :)

Wow! That's a lot of tomato sauce...

Yummy!! as always!! M

Saretta said...

'Tis the season...for making large batches of tomato sauce! Yours looks good!

Claire said...

Scrummy yummy! I can taste and smell the beautiful sauce from here.

Whispering Walls said...

The heat of it! I'm ducking plum jam making this year.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I know it is worthwhile doing this, but what a performance....I am sure it will be very tasty.

We cannot buy tomatoes in crates over here, it would cost us a fortune..

Leslie: said...

Oh man! Too much work for me, but my sweetie might like to try it. He makes EVERYTHING from scratch and we're going to have a bumper crop of tomatoes this year! I've printed out your post and will show it to him.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, pink. Yes, it was 34 C outside that day. Making preserves is always hot work, isn't it? Hi, M. Not finished yet! Thanks, Saretta and Kissa. Nice to see you back blogging and commenting , kissa. Hi, WW. Yes, the heat of it, indeed! Hi, Anne. It is a performance but you forget how hot you got and what a bother it is when you've got the sauce at hand for a whole year. Hi, Leslie. Please clone him!

jmb said...

Definitely a labour of love here with those gorgeous looking tomatoes.

In all that heat, as others have said. Vale la pena, I'm sure.

Liz Hinds said...

What a clever machine - and all that lovely sauce.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, jmb. And still 2 more sessions to go before all those tomatoes will be "sauced"! But it will be worth it... Hi, Liz. I really love my squashing machine!


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