Where I was born and where I learnt to cook, in New Zealand, when we preserve our produce we call it Bottling and we “Put them Down.’ Here (US) we say “Put them up’ and call it Canning but both are in a glass jar with a sealed lid. Does this have something to do with being in different hemispheres. (Up/Down?) So, here (US), when I say, I am putting down some tomatoes today, I get a very funny look!! Was that a complicated thought?
Before we start the Summer Sauce. One of my Dear Readers left a quote for me in a comment last night and I would love to share it with you.
‘Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements’ Marcel Boulestin.
I LOVE THAT! I looked him up. This fellow was great. He had the whole Clark Gable moustache thing happening. He tried and failed at all kinds of things before he moved to the UK and discovered food and the restaurant business. And excelled. More importantly he wrote his way through each career change. He never gave up. I love his story. Great quote. Thank you.
The concept of summer sauce was developed through my much acclaimed laziness when it comes to cooking and if I cannot memorise a recipe I seldom use it again. I love to be IN the garden. So this recipe that really is not a recipe starts in your garden or farmers market.
Step 1. Take a very large basket and proceed to walk about the vegetables and pick whatever is ready. I will pick lots of tomatoes, a few zuchinni (courgette) , egg-plant (aubergine), couple of leaves of swiss chard (silverbeet), a fennel bulb and sometimes potatoes and always onions and garlic. Whatever you have in the garden that takes your fancy with the majority of your basket holding tomatoes.
Step 2. Pick whatever herb you love the most. I pick handfuls of basil, thyme and rosemary. A little celeriac. Sometimes dill.
Step 3. If you like it spicy. Pick a chilli or two. Our John has a little Thai Chilli that I pick, deseed and pop in. Sometimes a jalapeno. Sometimes a capsicum (sweet pepper).
Step 4. BIG POT. Wash Core and chop the tomatoes. You can peel the tomatoes if you want to. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I usually peel the tough skins off the really big ones and just chop and chuck the rest in. Roughly chop up the rest of your vegetables. Onions and garlic and into the pot. A little salt. Boil, Bubble, Toil and Trouble, etc, until soft and well cooked.
Step 5. BLEND and seal into your beautiful shiny jars. Sometimes I blend it all, especially if I have been lazy enough NOT to peel the tomatoes. Sometimes I blend half and return to the pot. Sometimes I don’t blend at all. Just be very careful blending a hot tomato mixture, just little bits at a time. Don’t burn yourself. I like it a little chunky so I only pulse once or twice.
Step 6. The sealed jars go into a hot water bath and boil for about 30 minutes OR the safer option: into plastic containers and freeze. (I have people collecting their cottage cheese containers for me all winter and I use these). I bottle some and freeze some.
When you open a Jar of this during the winter, the scents of summer will float into the kitchen with you. This is why I call it Summer Sauce. It brings the summer into the winter kitchen!.
If the scent is sour or the jar lid hisses on opening. Or you are in any way suspicious of the contents. Throw away. Botulism is real. It goes without saying that you will sterilise everything when you are canning/bottling. We don’t want any nasties.
I will be making a pot full of this every day until I cannot bear it anymore. And the delightful thing is that every batch smells and tastes slightly different because my ingredients and herbs change their intensity and availability every day. Date each jar or container. It is fun to know when you gathered the sauce ingredients.
Our John had the audacity to suggest that my gardening shoes might be past their best. What is he thinking.( Splutter, splutter.) I have only just got them comfy!! Plenty of wear left in these babies!
I am cooking dinner for some friends this evening. I am going to make custard squares for dessert. Or try to. If they work I will share them with you tomorrow. So while you are at the market, pick up a dozen fresh eggs as well. We will be making custard!