Gotta lotta bottle

It’s that time of year again, when I miss an early morning swim in order to do an early morning shop. Some people rush out for the Boxing Day sales or for Black Friday, but not me. All I’m interested in is fruit season, when I can fill the car with boxes of produce and spend the following few days preserving it for the long winter months.

So, last Friday saw me off to Newcastle Emlyn at 7am to see what was available. It’s always hard knowing what to buy. You can’t plan ahead, because if you do I can guarantee that they won’t have the thing you want, but I was on the lookout for tomatoes, peaches, pineapples and peppers. What I came home with was tomatoes, peaches (two types) and apricots, as well as some potatoes and other vegetables for ‘normal’ cooking. And as a result, my kitchen looked like this on Friday:

IMGP5761

just waiting

So far, I have processed all of the tomatoes into oven-roasted passata (half-litre and quarter-litre jars)

and I’m making good progress with the apricots and peaches, plus we’ve eaten lots of them fresh and I’ve rotated my stock in Tim’s cupboard, so there’s a shelf ready to fill

I won’t share a picture of the slightly frazzled chef!

-oOo-

I love cooking with homemade passata; roasting the tomatoes adds a depth of flavour that you simply don’t get with tinned tomatoes, or even fresh ones. However, I also spend time doing this every year in order to avoid waste. As you can see from the pictures, the tomatoes come in cardboard boxes (which we burn or compost, depending on our current needs) and the jars are reused year after year, with the central disc of the lids being replaced when they stop sealing efficiently (they last several uses, although the manufacturers tell you to use them only once). This means that we minimise packaging and also avoid any potential problems with BPA leaching from the plastic coating inside tin cans (yes, metal cans also contain plastic)*.

Anyway, so far, so successful… I wonder what my next early morning shopping trip will yield.

-oOo-

*If you want to know a bit more about the issues associated with cans contaminating tomatoes, this seems to be a balanced article on the subject.

 

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33 Comments

  1. Reading this makes me hungry now. Is it simply a case of halving the tomatoes and then put them in oven or do you peel the them first before they go in or sort the skin our at the end when they are cooked?
    I don’t like tomatoes in their normal being but we do eat chopped etc. Would love to be able to just conserve a lot in one go to avoid the tinned variety.

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  2. I’m impressed. 🙂

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  3. I do like seeing all that evidence of industry 🙂 Not only is it fresh, healthy, waste-free and delicious, it’s also very decorative!

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Wow that looks amazing. I definitely need to look into preserving in jars more. We do pickles and jams but haven’t jarred sauces yet.

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    • I’m not a great eater of jams, but bottled fruit is a staple throughout the year and the passata is so much more yummy than any I have ever bought.

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      • Oh yes it definitely is! We made passata before but we froze it in portions which was quite useful 🙂

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        • I used to freeze it, but I’d need an enormous freezer to store the amount I make now; plus, once it’s in bottles, storage requires no further energy… and no defrosting (very useful for a super-quick pasta dish!)

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  5. Laurie Graves

     /  June 26, 2018

    Tomatoes and peaches already! You are so far ahead of Maine. We won’t have them until August.

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  6. I just love this – beautiful and fabulous to use throughout the year…an inspiration to be sure. Thanks!

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  7. So organised – and what wonderful pressies they would make in the midst of winter!

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  8. I do love to see your work at this time of the year! I remember the satisfaction I would see as I admired all my jars lined up in colourful rows in the pantry….. I didn’t know that you can reuse the seals, always threw mine out after one use. What a waste! 🙂 The things we learn! I do buy passata, but it is a) organic and b) in glass jars. Happy preserving!!

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    • We have a local organic farm where they make passata from their own tomatoes and I used to buy from them, sometimes they have surplus tomatoes and I buy those, but it’s a bit hit and miss and always at the end of the season, so I can’t rely on them, It’s quite a lot of work for the few days that I’m bottling, but it’s so worth it in the depths of winter to get a flavour of summer. This year it’s so sunny that our solar panels are supplying all the electricity needed for the cooking too, so I’m feeling even more environmentally virtuous.

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  9. I worked with a woman from an Italian family, and once a year they would have a big bottling session too. I remember her telling me about the huge saucepans they would put over a fire. I wonder now if that was to cook the tomatoes or boil water to sterilise the jars. You are part of a grand tradition. It must be so satisfying to see the produce organised in your cupboards, ready for the winter.

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  10. I love the photos you share of the boxes of produce at this time of year!

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  11. Wonderful!
    I didn’t know cans had plastic too – oh no!
    How can we humans have let it go this far. I have a vision of us wiping ourselves in about 500 years time, with us becoming extinct like dinosaurs and whichever species then evolves, in a few more thousand years time, will be sifting through mountains of plastic trying to work us out
    Thanks for giving me hope that there will be enough pioneer environmentalists like you to tip the balance in the right direction. On that cheery thought – back to crochet!

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  12. I’m deeply envious of your productivity. It must be wonderful opening one of the jars in the depths of winter. I really need to look into this – we have a great market in Birmingham so sourcing produce wouldn’t be difficult.

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    • I built up to it slowly – just a few jars of apples in the autumn when I realised I didn’t have enough freezer space, but now there are some things that I simply don’t freeze because the bottling is so effective. It means that I eat some fruit every day for my breakfast because there’s always a jar to open 🙂 and I haven’t bought a tin of tomatoes for several years now.

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  13. I used to can every summer and loved enjoying the fruits of my layouts in the winter:)

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  14. Oh my!! Wow!

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