Just a quick update, as I’ve been too busy to blog. Some cooler weather has meant that, with the help of our current helpxchangers, we’ve managed to get quite a lot done.
First off Amy arrived and she spent a week helping Jeremy cement posts and the top of the wall, which comes up to the house. She’s also been great helping around the house and helped me jar some more passata.
Then Jamie and Carlena arrived and together with Amy they managed to move our mountain of rubble (from when we had to dig up and relay a couple of floors) to become the hardcore base of our new pergola floor.
Jamie and Jeremy then had fun smashing all the rubble and found that compacting it with our roller-assisted rotavator (gas bottles filled with water) worked a treat. Next week they’ll lay the screed and it’s big enough for a table to sit twelve and a decent dance floor.
The girls meanwhile made our final batch of passata – bringing the grand total up to 140 bottles to keep us going throughout the year.
Each time I make passata there is slightly more than my giant water-bath will hold, so I’ve also made tomato ketchup and tomato concentrate.
Sun-reduced concentrato as it’s called in Puglia or estratto di pomodoro, as it’s known in Sciliy, is so rich in intense flavour and colour that it puts any shop bought tomato concentrate to shame. To make, just pour passata into shallow dishes and cover with sea salt. It’s traditional to spread it out on wooden boards, but shallow dishes are easier to clean. Leave out in the sun each day and remember to bring in each evening. Keep stirring it to help the sun dry the paste faster. In our last heatwave it only took me two days to make estratto. Once it has become a deep, dark red colour and taken on the consistency of clay fill small jars with it and cover with olive oil. The jars will keep for a year but store in the fridge once opened, always covering with a layer of oil.
We’ve another heatwave on the way so I’ll sun-dry some tomatoes to store dried and under oil, and so complete this year’s tomato odyssey.
I’ll be making some “it’s much better than Branston” chutney today with our purple plums so remember to tune in next week for the recipe as it’s seriously good (I’ve got quite a few Italian’s hooked on it).