Monday, October 03, 2011

Processing the glut - 50 years a vegetarian

Every so often we have a glut of produce, not just an unused bag of something from last week's shop at the supermarket like in the old days, but a serious glut of fresh fruit and vegetables. This week we were visited by Rita and Alfredo (Luis' sister and brother in law). As usual they came laden with produce from their own plot - a plot, I might add that makes La Pasera's look like a postage stamp.

Rita, knowing that I am a vegetarian, brought with her about 40 jars of Pisto she had made for me. This is a concentrated base of tomato, with chunks of marrow, pepper, squash, onion, paprika and herbs. Sealed and heated in a bain marie, this useful sauce can be used as a base for soups, with pasta, rice or other vegetables and it is a really useful, quick and easy food to have in store. I usually ration it to ensure we have stock all year round but somehow we still have a few jars left from last season so we will be treating ourselves to a few portions over the next few days.

In addition to the Pisto, they brought with them about 80 kg of ripe tomatoes, 20 kg of green tomatoes, bags full of apples, pears, peppers, chillies, cabbage and carrots. Our larder area in the garage would rival even the best stocked supermarket fresh produce counter.

Some of the produce from Rita and Alfredo
Needless to say, together with the glut of produce we currently have there is a lot of work to be done over the next few days if we are not to waste most of what we have in store. Thankfully, whilst Rita was here she and Luis spent two days of her 'holiday' making tomato frito or passata as you might know it. Here's how:

The tomatoes are washed and cored, blemishes removed then squashed into a rough pulp. The pulp is put into a fine mesh bag and left to drain overnight. The juice that is collected is bottled and frozen as it is one of the best tomato juices you could ever taste.

The pulp is then put through a machine that separates the flesh from the skin and pips (these are composted). Similarly, sautéed onion and peppers are put through the machine and the resulting pulp added to the tomato. This is then boiled and simmered with salt added to taste, herbs if required (I prefer to vary my herbs when used in cooking). When reduced it is put in jars and sealed, then the jars are boiled in a bain marie for 20 minutes until a vacuum has been formed.

In total, she made about 26 jars of tomato frito which together with the Pisto, will ensure we lots of supplies for the coming to tackle the pear and pepper mountain.

1 comment:

Click link to read more.