What is it about tomato sauce? It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like it.
As a youngster, one of our grandsons would have quite happily splurted it over most meals. You guessed it: ‘splurted’ means the bought stuff; he said homemade wasn’t “real”. He knew that “real tomato sauce” came in plastic bottles with small, round cloacal openings that squirted the redder than’s natural goo. Thanks for that Mr Heinz Wattie.
I’m not a fan of the bought stuff, but it’s so convenient to have on hand for those f ‘n c’s bought on the fly when away from home.
On home turf (that’s most of the time for us ‘homeys’), only June’s tomato sauce is good enough. Late summer – early autumn and the red sea’s there to be processed into sauce, relish, puree and soup.
Several years ago, June started to add apple to the mix; it not only makes more, it’s a thicker and tastier brew. Four large Peasgood Nonsuch from our tree are added to a batch that fills half a dozen 750 ml bottles.
Peasgoods are a superb cooker, becoming a nutritious stewed mush that’s easily digested when you’re sick and having trouble keeping anything down.
June’s latest saucy innovation is a godsend. I say that with conviction because pureeing, using a hand-operated rotational mouli grater, is my job. It squeezes all the juice and flesh out of the cooked brew, leaving behind fibrous matter and tomato skins. Bring the mix to the boil again and voila! – sauce ready to be funnelled into glass bottles.
“You absolutely must get a mouli!” Dr Diana Mason, exuberant and ‘right’ as ever, had commanded June. That was thirty-five years ago when June was her practice nurse.
Diana, as dedicated to her husband as she was to her obsterics and gynaecology patients. We imagined her mouli-ing away as she made vats of soup. Imagined Bruce Mason heating up his soup, on tour with his one man show, The End of the Golden Weather. Imagined Diana ladelling out moulied bowls full to feed the man who wrote, what was at the time, the only New Zealand play that most secondary students knew anything about: The Pohutukawa Tree.
Mouli-ing is tedious, time-consuming: winding the handle in a clockwise direction and watching, as the level in the mouli bowl goes down ‘slo-mo’. A cleverly designed scoop-cum-press at the base of the handle forces the thick goo through a sieve with large holes into the preserving pan below. Every couple of bowls full you have to scrape off the skins and give the sieve a rinse.
So June’s ‘saucy innovation’ really was a godsend. She discovered the new method from having recently made a preserving pan full of broccoli soup. (We like it with blue vein cheese crumbled on top.)
It’s one of those plug in ‘sticks’ (so called), with small cutting blades that whizz round, shredding broccoli or whatever to a pulp. She tried it on the tomato sauce and it had those skins shredded in no time at all.
Surprisingly, the resultant sauce, with minute bits of skin suspended in it, is smoother and creamier. And the extra bulk meant a greater yield: seven bottles as opposed to six.
The consistency is more like Mr Heinz Wattie’s ‘real sauce’. But that’s where the comparison ends.
Sorry kiddoes – it still doesn’t taste like the bought stuff.
“Psst – thank goodness!” I say.
We have the 2010 edition of the Edmonds Cookery Book. The tomato sauce recipe has remained unchanged since its inclusion in the 1908 first edition. What Edmonds describe as the ‘De Luxe’ cook book version had its first printing in 1955. The latest and 69th ‘De Luxe Edition’ came out in 2016.
- 3.5 kg tomatoes, chopped
- 1 kg apples, peeled and chopped
- 6 onions, chopped
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 cups malt vinegar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
Put tomatoes, apples, onions, sugar, vinegar, salt and cayenne pepper into a preserving pan. Tie peppercorns, allspice and cloves in muslin and add. Boil steadily for about 2 hours or until completely pulpy. Discard whole spices. Press through a colander or coarse sieve.* Return to pan and boil for 2 minutes. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal.
* We always used the mouli, but from now on we’ll be using ‘the stick’.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.