Tradition. A custom handed down to posterity especially orally or by practice. As an Australian, whose family came over from Britain and has been here for generations, we don’t really have traditions (unless you count tying hankies into hats to wear at Christmas) so I’m wholeheartedly embracing the Italian traditions of Daniel’s family.
They have sauce day, pig day and multiple bread days. All of which involve making mammoth quantities of passata, salami, pizza and bread. And by mammoth, I mean we made 200 bottles of passata and their pizza oven is big enough to cook fifty loaves of bread at a time. We are building an oven at our house that may be able to cook five to ten loaves, I hope that’s big enough.
Days start early. 5am is normal time to be up and ready to start. We didn’t get there till 8 and all the prep work had been done by the early risers. 200 long neck beer bottles washed and stacked ready to add basil to. 12 boxes of roma tomatoes washed. Two giant pots of water boiling. Fires set under the drums. Coffee and biscuits on the go.
It’s a simple process. Boil the tomatoes for 5 minutes, scoop them out into an old shopping trolley lined with a sheet and mash them a little. Let a bit of the water drain, then feed the tomatoes into the mouli and catch what comes out as sauce in one pot and the skins in another. Feed the skins back in for a second go, catch that, mix it up and pour into beer bottles.
It’s important to leave a gap at the top of the bottle for when the passata is boiled so that they don’t explode. Pop a crown seal on and then lay them into a 44 gallon drum to boil for a couple of hours.
Go inside for lunch and a siesta. Done.
Daniel tells me the sauce still needs to be cooked to use as this is just the preserving process, so I bought an 11 litre pot to turn the passata into pasta sauce in. Boiled with lamb off-cuts and bay leaves it is mighty tasty.
We have to be careful with the beer bottles too, as the ones available now for home brewing are not as strong as these 50 year old ones and can’t take the heat of the fire as well.