Last year was a great tomato year. We harvested heaps tiny toms, Grosse Lisse, Black Russians and Romas for months.
2008, on the other hand, has been an utter disaster. The bushes themselves have been growing like mad for little return, alas. Too much rain, I think, and a diabolical case of fruit fly has meant that we have fewer tomatoes on our luxuriant bushes, and what does grow gets stung, despite our organic fruit fly traps.
How have we been dealing with the fruit fly? We’ve learned the hard way that dealing with fruit fly calls for a pre-emptive action. By the time you have a problem it’s far too late. At this late stage, the only thing to do is to get rid of the stung fruit. Every fruit that looks stung gets put into a plastic bag and left in the sun for about five days. Then we hurl them in the bin and sigh. At the moment though, we have had precious little sun, so the bags are being left out for quite a bit longer.
Despite this, I had about 5 kilos of tomatoes with only minor damage, so this morning I decided was the day for a pasta sauce cook up.
I really wanted to make bottled tomato sauce, but haven’t been able to find a recipe in any of my books. Despite my Italian heritage, my family never really went in for the tomato sauce making ritual. Mum tells me that this is because I family is from Friuli in the north east of Italy, where tomatoes did not flourish in the 1950s. My Nonna would grow tomatoes but they weren’t a big success and they were quite acid. Colder weather in their area, so shorter growing seasons, see.
So I have opted simply to make a simple napolitana sauce and freeze the result. Here’s my recipe:
5 kg tomatoes
10 cloves of garlic,chopped*
Skin and de-seed your tomatoes by pouring boiling water on them and let them stand for a few minutes. The skin should come off fairly easily. Cut off the tops of squeeze to de-seed. Meanwhile, chop your onions finely (I did mine in the Magimix) and soften in a large saucepan with 4 or 5 glugs of olive oil over a gentle heat. After about 10 minutes or so, when the onions is soft, slightly golden add the chopped garlic and cook for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes or so.
At this point, after letting the sauce cool a little, you could freeze as is if you like a chunky sauce, or whiz the sauce in the food processor for a smooth result. I’ve pushed the sauce through the mouli for an in-between texture.
*Note the symmetry? One onion and two garlic cloves for every kilo of tomatoes, so you can adjust your quantities accordingly.