Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You say 'tomato', I say 'tomato sauces'

At this time of the year every roadside stall around Nelson is heaving with 'cooking tomatoes', which makes me very happy because making preserves is about the most fun thing I can think of. It's my perfect way to spend an afternoon.
If we're talking nana-style tomato relish I always use this recipe over at NZ Gardener. It's the old-fashioned curry powder-mustard type, but it doesn't have flour or cornflour in it, which I like because then there's never the risk of that goopy consistency that you sometimes find in that type of relish.
I like to try out something new each year, too. This year, Mrs Fernando's Sri Lankan Chutney from the Feast Maniototo cookbook. I see someone has put that recipe online over here, if you're interested. I'm not sure about it just yet. It has lots of good things in it, ginger, garlic, chillies, etc. but it's so very very sweet. I think it might be best used in the same way as sweet chilli sauce, rather than tomato relish. I'll keep you posted about how it works out over the year.
Then there's pasta sauce. It's something we use for lasagne or spagbol or pizza at least once a week, so I like to have plenty and a couple of different types. This year I did a roast tomato and capsicum one, made simply by roasting tomatoes and capsicums, pulling off most of the skins with the tongs, then cooking up the mixture with some onions, garlic, and marjoram. Then I add some vinegar (about 2 T per 500 mL jar) and bottle it using the overflow method.
Tomato salsa, my old friend. Secret code "10 rice crackers and salsa = 1 point". If you don't know what that means then clearly you do not have the same battles with weight that I do. Anyway, I do like salsa and rice crackers as a wee treat, and I very much prefer my homemade version to the bought stuff. I have 20 jars of this in the cupboard now.
Perhaps you would like the recipe? Here's the original, from my sister Miriam, as written in my cookbook:
Salsa Picante
2 kg ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 mild chillies, chopped
1 large onion, chopped small
1 green and 1 red pepper, chopped
150 g tomato paste
3/4 C white vinegar
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T salt
2 t paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
Boil all together in a large pot, uncovered, for 1 h, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust chilli and salt. Add more lemon juice if you like it more piquant. Bottle and seal (or freeze). Makes plenty.
(Notes in the margin of my recipe book: I don't always put in the tomato paste, sometimes I add 1 t cumin, or I use 1 C of a mixture of lime juice, lemon juice, and various types of vinegar, the proportions of which change according to what I have available. Using cider vinegar makes it sweeter).
If I'm short on ideas or time, I deal with tomatoes by roasting and freezing them. Just the usual method (halve, sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, olive oil, roast at 140 degrees C until collapsed, cool, then pack and freeze).
My sister Mary Anna accused me of being excessively smug about all my preserving. I think perhaps I might be.

Have a great week everyone!


  1. Yum! Thanks for all the links to recipes- I might give that second one a go, to use instead of sweet chilli like you suggest. (I'm never entirely sure what all the ingredients in those bottles are- the best sweet chilli sauces inevitably don't have a word of english on the bottle!) Am planning some bread and butter pickles this weekend.

  2. Yummo. Funny, I have a tray of tomatoes in my post today too. It definatly is that time of year :)

  3. I agree with Jessicah, I might have to try the second one as sweet chilli sauce too. We go through it like water in our stir fries. I must find my grans relish recipe too, it's one of those old fashioned ones and it is THE best relish ever.
    Now I'm off to buy rice cracker and salsa! Always keen to find 1 point snacks!

  4. Oh yummy! I am yearning for summer now.

  5. Very very very smug. The smuggliest. I bet it's all yummy though.

  6. great post, jenny! you're allowed to be smug, i don't mind. i have lots of tomatoes just waiting for preserving fun.

  7. What a fabulous line-up. How could anyone help but be proud? I've done peanut butter, pesto and now I'm off to do...peel. Yes the lemons arrived today so off to find your instructions.

  8. OOh! What a great selection! I love to sit at a table where its all about the sauces : )

  9. That looks so tasty! You couldn't get rice crackers anywhere in the states it was quite upsetting

  10. Yum! I can almost smell the tomatoes roasting.

  11. Oh, how I admire you. Such a good thing to do! Looks delish too.

  12. They all look delicious. Im planning to make green tomato pickle out of the tomatoes that wont ever ripen in my garden. I've got a great recipe that uses pineapple and green tomatoes.