It’s impossible to ignore the bountiful supplies of rich red tomatoes that flood our produce markets throughout summer. With their vibrant colour, appetising aroma and tasty tang, tomatoes are the trademark ingredient for refreshing salads and light summertime meals.
And when it comes to summer tomatoes, there’s much to celebrate! Without them, summer salads and salsas would be bland in colour and flavour, pasta would be positively plain, and basil would be a total bore. I think Pablo Neruda best summed it up in his Ode to Tomatoes, brilliantly praising the fruit for bringing inexhaustible sun to our salad bowls, and for granting us a festival of ardent colour and all-embracing freshness.
Summer was one of my favourite seasons when I worked at the produce markets. I would watch for the Italian families in droves who would visit the stall owned by Bruno and Salvatore. Boxes of plump, ripe Roma tomatoes walked out the door en masse and I knew 'the time was ripe'. Unlike other shoppers whose focus was passata, I would buy tomatoes to make what became known by my nieces and nephews as 'Aunty Lizzy's Hot Sauce'. It's simple and delicious, and a great accompaniment to all kinds of cooked meat. And it's especially good with cold, home made corned beef on a sandwich! Enjoy.
AUNTY LIZZY'S HOT SAUCE*
2-3kg ripe tomatoes, washed and chopped
250g Granny Smith apples, washed, peeled and sliced
250g onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons sea salt
600 mls white vinegar
Place all of the ingredients into a deep, heavy based saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer very gently for around two hours. Note, I use a simmer mat to prevent the sauce from catching in the pan. Meanwhile, sterilise your jars in the oven. If you wish, you can strain the sauce through a coarse strainer (per the original recipe), however, I quite enjoy the texture of the unstrained sauce. Ladle into hot jars and seal when cold. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 8 cups.
* My receipt is adapted from Tomato Sauce in The Commonsense Cookery Book 1975.
The process in pictures...
Do you make preserves during Summer? What's your favourite fruit or vegetable for this? Please feel free to share your recipe if you wish.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.