One of the best bits about Summer is the explosion of fruit and vegetables. For me, they form a huge part of the season to me – the smell of tomato vines, the crunch of a fresh bean, the ridiculously amazing taste of vine-ripened rockmelons. These flavours and smells add to the experience, and make me feel at home. With such a glut of produce, it’s only natural that you preserve some of these flavours to add a bit more sunlight to winter. I have been squirreling away bits and pieces here and there – plums turned into sauce and peaches into jam – as a source of future bartering currency as well as for my larder.
This year has been different for the family farm in Uralla – instead of an early season of tomatoes which would be looking rather sad and dejected at this stage of the season, they went in at a later date and as such they’ve only started to bear ripe fruit. One of my favourite ways of storing them for use in the future is to bake, pass through a sieve and then freeze. There’s something about an oven’s dry heat compared to reduction in a pot – there’s more caramelisation, and the tomato flvour intensifies in a truly delicious way. The big trick with these is temperature and time.
- Grab a tray, line with baking paper and pop a single layer of tomatoes in it. prick each one a bit with a knife as you want the juices to ooze out as they cook. Add a pinch of salt, some fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. This batch also had some garlic cloves in it too.
- Pop into an oven at 160*C for two hours. After this they should look like the picture below.
- Give these a squish with a wooden spoon (take care as they can spurt super heated tomato juice a fair distance!) and pop back in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Pour this mix into a colander or sieve sitting in a bowl. Pass the mix through the sieve with a spoon until all you’ve got left is skins and seeds left over. give that to the chooks, pop it into your compost or place it in your green waste bin!
- The sauce you’ve got now is mana from the gardening gods! You can add it to pasta sauces, make tomato soup, or tomato sauce, or just pour it on savoury dishes for an extra kick of summer. You can also pop it in the freezer until you next require a dose of summer on a freezing cold day.