You’ll have to forgive my slackness on the blog-front but it has been seriously hot here for the past couple of weeks. We’ve had several days in the mid-40s while most days have been in the upper 30s. With nightly temperatures never dropping below 25˚ C it’s left us feeling pretty lethargic. The only ones with any energy around here are the cicadas who are beginning their enthusiastic chatter at 5am, and that’s too damn chirpy for me.
The heatwave has meant that we’ve managed to start jarring passata earlier than usual. Yesterday we made 26 bottles from around 40 kilos of tomato. You may think this doesn’t sound like a good return of tomato to sauce ratio; but the trick to making good tomato sauce/passata is to lay the tomatoes out for a couple of days before processing them, so their flavour intensifies and they aren’t too watery.
After cooking them a little to break them down, it’s also best to scoop them out with a really large slotted spoon or colander before running them through a passata mill. By not including any watery juice, you can be assured of lovely thick sauce, which is intensively flavoured. For further details, you can check out last year’s passata-making blog.
I’m hoping to make at least 150 jars to last us the year, so we’ll be buying a couple of 20-kilo crates every few days. We’ve quite a few helpxchangers coming over the next month, so I shan’t be short of passata-making assistants. We’ll still add our own tomatoes, but at €8 a crate, this saves our precious water supply. You may have noticed that I seem to up the amount I make each year, but homemade passata is infinitely better than any you can buy in a supermarket.
We sampled the leftover passata with spaghetti, french beans and cacioricotta. Just boil the beans with the spaghetti, drain and then mix some cacioricotta and then sauce in before eating. Cacioricotta is a southern Italian speciality and is made from a mixture of ricotta and either sheep or goats cheese or a mixture of both. It’s quite salty and strongly flavoured but imparts a wonderful creaminess to pasta dishes. If you ever see some for sale I seriously recommend you buy some as it works really well with any tomato-based sauce.
We dug up the Spunta potatoes a few weeks back and I can report that they have a really good flavour and consistency. So far I’ve only used them for potato salad and pasta alla Genovese and they worked well in both recipes. We didn’t get any monster-sized spuds and it was an average yield, but we pretty much just stuck them in the ground and left them to their own devices owing to focussing all our time and energies to repairing the front walls. We’ll definitely grow them next year, only with lots of manure and see if we can’t get a bumper crop of monster-sized potatoes.