|Boiling the jars and waiting for the embers.|
|And this is only a portion of the fun.|
Every year, we make tomato sauce. Not just simple stewed tomatoes (although we do that too) but proper cooked sauce.
The morning has to begin early to get the tubs of sauce ready for the rest of the day. Tomatoes are cored and given a quick squeeze, placed in a large pot (I mean 'my now 5 year old could bathe in this pot' large) along with a good quantity of parsley, basil, a few onions and a couple of red peppers. This mixture stews until cooked down sufficiently to bring everything together, it can take an hour, and is then seasoned.
We make at least 4-5 laundry tubs of this mixture, give it a quick zip with an immersion blender and then pass it through the mill. The resulting mixture gets collected in another 20L pail and ladelled into awaiting sterilised jars. The jars are wiped, sealed and snuggled into a repurposed drum for boiling.
Technically, this recipe should be processed in a pressure canner as we do not add any citric acid or lemon juice. That said, we do not add copious quantities of vegetables or any oil and are fairly liberal with the salt. If you are a beginner, please get a good home canning guide. And you needn't stop at tomatoes.
Just like the sauce, we come together too. This is an annual activity and, this year, we are all stepping into bigger shoes. Nonno helps when and where he can and Nonna 'supervises' from a perch in the veranda that overlooks the activity at the oversized picnic table and the fireplace. It's a different chain of command than years past and we need all hands on deck because this weekend is the first of a few we'll be spending in the backyard. We're under the pergola in case of rain but it is a much more pleasant event on fine days. Thankfully, the weather has been accomodating.
Even with the aging migrant Italian community, the odour of cooking tomatoes, peppers and herbs still dominates our neighbourhood throughout the month of September thanks to the dedicated first and now, second generation. We're lucky to be like-minded, able to pitch in and willing to slow down a little to make the base for pizza night, quick pastas and long Italian family dinners through the Canadian winter.