Monday, August 27, 2012

Southern Bounty

part of the tomato plantation 2012

No, this is not Le Ripe, this is my sister in law's farm in southern Italy. We visited them last week and witnessed the incredibly labour-intensive job of making bottled tomato passata with their wonderful Rio Grande tomatoes. Here are just a glimpse of their organic tomato plantation and one moment of the 'procedura' as they call the entire process once the tomatoes have been harvested.
cooking the washed, selected tomatoes
First the tomatoes are washed, chopped both for quicker cooking and to check that they are sound inside (this does not happen in industrial processes) and set to cook in enormous saucepans. They boil at least two hours until they have reduced and softened. Salt is added at the end. This is for taste and to help preserve the sauce. Then the hot pulp is poured through a small machine which mashes the tomatoes, discarding the seeds and skins. This is the only mechanized aspect. The 'passata' - so-called because it has been 'passed' through the filter and become a rich red sauce - is immediately bottled with some leaves of basil. The bottles are piled in large saucepans filled with water and boil for about two hours; they are then left to cool overnight.

This year my sister in law, who is a real hero, will make 3000 half-kilo bottles of passata sauce with a handful of helpers. If anyone is interested in buying this wonderful, fresh, natural, organic tomato sauce they can have a look at this blog which also shows images of the 'procedura'.

The best use for the passata sauce (which can of course be adapted to countless recipes) is to simply pour it over a dish of freshly-cooked 'al dente' pasta, add some good olive oil and maybe parmesan and fresh basil. 

fruit of earth and sun

It is fruit of the earth and the sun, 
the best of the best!

If you would like to find out more about my sister in law's produce, have a look at their site.

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