No, I am going to resort to a heavy cast iron gas jet that should be able to cope with the weight of a boiler full on bottles when I process my passata.
With the abundant harvest upon me and no working kitchen it was time to rethink how I am going to process my tomato sauce, passata and pickles etc. Luckily I have been house sitting for my daughter while they are in the USA so I made a batch of tomato sauce there, using the now loved Grandmas’s best tomato sauce recipe. I tend to drop back the amount of sugar as we don’t have a sweet tooth and it suits us well. I had a few issues last year with the seals on the Grolsch bottles so I have hedged my bets and done a mix of both Grolsch and crown seal bottles.
Last year I made approximately 300 bottles of pure passata. This is really only a tomato puree that can be used in a multitude of recipes. Italian, Indian, middle eastern and everything in between. I used to make large bottles in my Fowlers outfit but since the kids have home left we don’t need the volume we did, so for the last couple of years I have been preserving my passata sauce in recycled stubbies and my favourite, 500ml cider bottles. This has proven to be a great thing as I can offer a couple of bottles to friends and not stress about having them return precious bottles. Take a few when we go camping and rest assured there are always stubbies available for restocking! I love this process, we haven’t bought tomato puree for yonks and I intend to keep it that way. Anyway, back to the point of the post.
Today I picked about 7 kilo of San Marzano which I will turn into passata and 4 kilo of Gross lisse which I can’t wait to have on my toast in the morning, sliced a nice little grind of black pepper and M mm. I had hoped to do it today but it is too hot and windy so maybe tomorrow evening.
A big thank you to Liz at Suburban Tomato for posting her Pickled Bread and Butter Cucumber Recipe. I tried this last night and although quite sweet the flavour is great and they have a little crunch even after this short time.
I haven’t uploaded any posts since before Christmas due to a whole host of time restrictions.
Firstly there was Christmas. We had to work hard at enjoying the season this year, but with a bit of determination, skilful planning and plenty of champagne it was a huge success and we spent some lovely time with family and friends.
This year was the 30th anniversary of me making the traditional gingerbread house that is now routinely destroyed in any manner we can invent at the end of Christmas Day. Everyone primed in anticipation and Grandma in the background saying “Oh, it’s such a shame after all the work that’s gone into it”. That only seems to bring more motivation on. Unfortunately this year the bocce ball, come ‘shot put’ hit the target before I was ready to film. Hopefully one day someone else in the family may share their capturing of the moment.
Some finishing touches before we move in!
Most notable of the time drainers was that we have finally moved in to our ‘New Old House’. We worked incredibly hard right over the Christmas break to get the house up to a level suitable for habitation. Water and gas installation finished, rewiring finished, new loo in, lounge painted then repainted after the re-blockers finished (the day before we moved in), earth-moving and rock down in drive so we could get cars in. Then there was the process of packing for moving and making the old house nice for the new owners. Between the local ‘Men’s Shed’, various Op-Shops, Ebay and the tip we got rid of an enormous load of ‘stuff’ but I don’t think you can tell-still seems to be ‘stuff’ everywhere. Once we get a shed/garage and a kitchen I’m sure most of it will find it’s own place.
Goodbye to the old home.
After 23 years in one house I am quite surprised that I really don’t feel anything much about saying goodbye to it. The garden, with its sense of tranquility and birds I will miss, but basically everything is re-do-able so I’m not that fussed. The things I’ll most miss are:
The many birds we have that regularly demand a morsal of seed. This beautiful King Parrot came to say goodbye,
I’ll miss having a thriving compost system that just keeps happening. Having to start a fresh system takes a little bit of time.
The old ‘measure the kids as they grow’ markers. Not only an indicator of growth but brings back memories of lots of things the kids did in this home while growing up.
Time to go, pack the kids in the car and off we go!
Greenhouse up-finally .
After much ‘faffing’ around and trying to squeeze this job in between all the others we finally have a completed Sproutwell Greenhouse. Hasn’t really been too high on the priority list because of the warm weather but with the possibility that temperatures could drop at night soon I want the extra protection. Just need to finish the floor and set up benches inside and I’ll be sweet!
In the Vegie Patch
It has been incredibly dry here in Gippsland and we have quickly been taken back to where we were when in drought. After such a wet year last year we were lulled into a false sense of security and have had to revert to hand watering everything. I must say the wicking beds seem to be holding their own. A quick surface water every now and then (more because its nice on a warm evening to do than because its necessary).
My garlic harvest this season has been sensational and it along with ‘Spiced Prunes in Port‘ preserves, made great additions to the Christmas gift packs. Unfortunately I can’t find the photos of the garlic I took so will take a couple later and add them.
I have been battling a bit with my San Marzano tomatoes this year. For the first time in a very long time they have been a victim of Blossom End Rot, a condition that is due to lack of calcium in the soil. Having had to purchase soil for the beds I haven’t had much control over that. Next year once there has been a chance to work in plenty of compost and grow a green manure crop it should start to improve. It really hit home that all the effort I made with the soil at our old place was in fact worth it. I am still getting a pretty good crop and will have more than enough for sauce and passata. Now to work out where to process the harvest…………..
My quest to develop an opinion on whether or not to prune laterals from tomatoes has had mixed results.
Pruned of laterals
Takes more time to manage
Easy to support
Heavier to support
Think I am steering towards the pruned method purely because of the larger fruit size. Will repeat again next year because I am not sure how much having a calcium soil deficiency had a hand in results.
The grosse lisse planted straight into the ground are doing really well, just have to remember to pick as soon as there is the tiniest blush of pink or else the blackbirds beat me to it. Today I placed some exclusion bags over some larger fruit to see if I can get longer on the vine time.
My Rosella sabdarifida is doing quite nicely, will go into the greenhouse soon as it needs warm temperatures to flower. With a good bit of luck I will be able to turn it into those beautiful syrupy flowers and use it in champagne.
Cucumbers have been great, picking daily and now need to think about making some lovely Bread & Butter Cumber Pickle. Growing up the trellis has been a great success.
Other continual pickings have been beans, silver beet, snow peas, lettuce and herbs. Not sure what happened to my capsicums but they appear to be tomatoes. Suspect I may have been a bit confused when I labelled my saved seed packet!
Couple of steps closer to getting our chooks. I purchased a ‘Dine a Chook‘ feeder and waterer for my husbands Christmas present and I have commissioned the local Men’s Shed to make my very specially designed chook house (keep an eye out, it’s going to be great!)
All said and done, we are a lot more comfortable than we thought we may be. Struggling a bit with highway noise but everyone assures me you get used to it! Lying in my hammock this afternoon eating ripe mulberries was a treat indeed!
I may not have the birds yet, but it is quite beautiful on a hot humid afternoon lying in the hammock looking up through the mulberry tree. Even better when I get to pick a few, very nice indeed.