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Milkwood Blog

All of Summer is now stored…

April 23, 2014 | Preserving, Vegetable Gardening | 18 comments | Author:

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There comes a point in every Autumn when the tomatoes are finally, finally done. We’ve passata-ed and dried and preserved and cooked to the point where all of summer is stored, and on the shelf.

Last weekend was our final session of tomato squishery (and drying) before the garden gets packed down for its winter sleep beneath the frost… 

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“Look, Mum” said Ashar at one point – “we’ve made Jupiter”…

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Our trusty passata machine chugged away till every last roma (and the cherries I couldn’t be bothered drying any more of) tomato was crushed.

Sometimes, early in the season, i reduce this down to make a thick sauce before bottling.

At this time of year, though – you have seen enough tomatoes to last you two lifetimes. Must. Get. Them. All. Preserved.

Hence it’s out of the passata bucket and into the bottle, with no stops or reducing in-bewteen.

This works fine, especially with sauce tomatoes like romas – you can always reduce your sauce at the other end of the process (ie when cooking) if you wish.

So – a handful of salt per bucket of passata, then it’s into the clean jars (with a leaf of basil in each) – and into the vacola units, which hold 10 750ml jars each.

Hold at boiling point for an hour, and you have yourself 10 jars of stored summer.

Reapeat. Repeat. Repeat.

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If you don’t reduce the sauce first you may get an end product that separates after standing, like above.

You know what? That’s fine with me. In the name of time and energy and winter coming on fast, I hereby embrace all separated jars of non-reduced passata.

They taste amazing, and a quick shake re-constitutes them anyways.

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And now that the very first frost has arrived, I am equal parts elated, exhausted and nostalgic for the immensity that is summer’s bounty.

Big thanks to Michael Hewins and Heather and Felipe who planted these rows of tomato babies way back in Spring, to everyone who helped tend them, and to Anji (and Ashar) for helping me make it through the final Passata session.

 



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18 COMMENTS


  • Bryan Ludwick April 23, 2014 at 7:20 am | Reply

    Always a little sad when the frosts come – this year on the 21st April – and the cold just wipes the life from the tomato plants, the beans and the curcubits – not to mention the last patch of corn (although the cobs are still good) and the Basil – poor basil, has grown so vigorously since November and now is little more than blackened leaves. Ah well, there is always next spring to look forward to.


  • Kelly Lus April 23, 2014 at 7:42 am | Reply

    Yay for the cooler weather. I processed near 50 kgs of tomatoes from my small plot this year. Had the best crop of tomatoes ever!! Have a ball doing the preserving thing every year but having two little people to care for in between everything else makes it that little more exhausting. It’s so worth it though to have yummy sauces, relishes pickles etc to enjoy while we wait to do it all again next year.


    1. Kirsten April 23, 2014 at 8:28 am | Reply

      Glad you got such a great harvest, Kelly! Dry years do have their advantages, don’t they :)


  • katefoxslane April 23, 2014 at 8:59 am | Reply

    Beautiful! We’ve still got a few weeks in the poly tunnels before our tomato job is done for the year but gosh I know it’s almost time when that smell of ripening tomatoes in crates in the house starts to make me feel a little queasy. Almost there. x


  • rabidlittlehippy April 23, 2014 at 10:14 am | Reply

    I keep on holding out hope for my tomatoes to ripen but it’s time to call it quits I think. :( Not a great year for my big toms but much learned. I’ve been juicing the wild apples and know the same feeling of which you speak except regarding the apples. Shortcuts rock!
    Nothing like seeing the pantry chock a block full of homepreserved goodness. :) Summer shining in a jar.


    1. jimmmyc April 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Reply

      rlh- You can cut the stalks of your tomato plants just below the lowest truss of unripened tomatoes at this time of year and tie them upside down on a verandah or some other “frost free” area or similar and they will continue to ripen during the rest of winter. Their flavour may change a little but you will find they are still much better than any store bought tomato ever.


      1. rabidlittlehippy April 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Reply

        Everything is better than a store bought tomato! Thanks for the tip too. :)


      2. shapeofthingstoni April 24, 2014 at 3:55 am | Reply

        Also, green tomato chutney is wonderful stuff. I would be sad if I didn’t have enough green toms left at the end of the season to make some.


  • davestewart3 April 23, 2014 at 10:25 am | Reply

    Reblogged this on Slow Natural Living.


  • swo8 April 23, 2014 at 10:41 am | Reply

    I think I still have a little tomato paste left in the freezer from last summer. Thanks for reminding me.
    Leslie


  • jimmmyc April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply

    Kirsten it is great to see you haven’t wasted a single tomato, they are all there waiting for future use.
    I am just transplanting new seedlings into my passively heated igloo for winter growth and hope to be able to pick some nice fresh fruit over coming months. Only picked about 60Kgs this year compared to up to 300 a couple of years back from the same sized area. Heatwaves and drought are so drastic on gardens.


  • Kelly Lus April 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Reply

    Yes they do! I harvested plenty of red capsicums too. I’ve been growing capsicums for four years and this is the first year I’ve had them turn red. Was so excited!! It was hard going having to water everyday though. :)


  • shapeofthingstoni April 24, 2014 at 3:56 am | Reply

    What do you do with the solid bits after making passata? This has always bothered me enough that I make a tomato puree, skins and all, instead.


    1. Kirsten April 25, 2014 at 11:51 am | Reply

      We dry the solid bits then crumble and add salt… ends up as a good tomato flavoury-thing for soups and such. Alternately you could re-combine the lot after squishing, have done that too :)


  • Benita Green Lee April 28, 2014 at 3:06 am | Reply

    Looks fantastic and fun! Just wondering if you know of a smaller version of the passapomodoro for a home kitchen? Also, I’m based in the U.S. — don’t know whether there are any Italian brands of grinders that are available via Amazon? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


    1. Kirsten April 28, 2014 at 6:04 am | Reply

      Benita there’s a marvellous hand-cranked one called a squeezo from the US http://www.squeezostrainer.com/


  • Benita Green Lee April 29, 2014 at 4:11 am | Reply

    Wonderful!! Thanks, Kirsten!! I thought for sure I’d have to order something from Italy!


  • […] far, I’ve just baked ‘em in Milkwood farm passata with herbs from out the back. I’m aware there’s more possibilities, though. Any good […]



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