I've been looking forward to this day for a long while. The day when i take my Vacola out of its box not just to look at but to actually use. As with all things, i learn better when someone holds my hand and so at 5.30am Sat morning a visitor arrived for a day of, first a hot cooked breakfast with coffee after travelling an hr to get to me, shopping for ingredients and then preserving.
The shopping took place at Laverton Market and we were really pleased that Tom not only joined us but drove us in his little RAV4 which is fondly known as the mobile shopping cart. It has such a good carry space at the right height and a large rear door that completely opens to give access. Lav Market is not my favourite place and I've only taken tentative steps past its entrance on several occasions. It seems there is a dress code that must be adhered to that includes baggy tracky daks and moccasins (worn in public). Its just that little bit scary. Given that it was raining and we were there by 7.30am there were not many people and so it was much better. I also had Jess to hold my hand. Oh didn't i tell you that my visitor was Jess from Rabidlittlehippy.
|Jess, my protector and shopping buddy. Isn't her hat just groovy! She's trying hard not to laugh.|
Tom got stuck into chopping the tomatoes. We didn't have all day and so we didn't peel them. Just chopped, seasoned (herbs, garlic, peppers), puree and cook until some of the water was reduced before adding to hot jars with lemon juice. That all sounds simple but there was plenty of advice being shared along the way for a beginner. Before sealing i was shown how to remove the air bubbles. I learnt how to untwist the rubber rings. How to make sure your clips are fully on (the hard way). We discussed oxidation and how cut tomatoes needed to be worked with quickly, and also about tomato separation which unfortunately happened to my second batch. We prepared it in stages with leftovers from the first batch and several hastily made smaller batches trying to fill up Jess's much larger water bath on the stove. Now that i know how much my bath will take i can plan it better. I may also do it with cold tomatoes although i like the idea of intensifying the flavour with cooking like a real Italian Mamma.
Tomato Separation from Canning 101
Often, I will hear from people who are concerned because their crushed tomatoes have separated into a layer of liquid topped by a layer of solids. What happened here is that you heated your tomatoes for more than five minutes, let them cool and then heated them up again.
By doing this, you’ve broken down the pectin inside the tomatoes. In this situation, the pectin was there holding the structure of the cells together and once it goes, there’s nothing to maintain the integrity of the tomato flesh together and so pulp separates from the water.
I never worry about this one either. Just give the jar a good shake before using.
|The one on the left was first batch and the second on right with separation. No matter, when it was cold the next day i just shook it and it was fine.|
|First batch done looking great.|
Ta Da! Doesn't it look so good. I'm a bit disappointed in the flavour of the tomatoes but these were factory hydroponic tomatoes and not ones that had been left to ripen outside in the sun. The fruiting season has only just begun in Oz and so i wanted to practise now before using really good ones including my own. I've claimed the top shelf of my linen press for my preserves as its cool and dark.
Today's lunch included some of Jess's cheese made from real buttermilk and some of the oven roasted preserves.
So what is my next target?
Caramelised Onions anyone?
Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz