No good Italian can live without tomatoes, and plenty of it. So the annual Passata day always takes effect when tomatoes are in abundance, ripe, sweet and fresh. Making about 60 kilograms of Passata every year for our own needs, and some as gifts, has been a family tradition for many decades. It helps to be on a good footing with the local green grocer who is only too pleased to discount the tomatoes that would be considered over ripe in New Zealand, but just right in Italy.
Wash and roughly cut up the tomatoes, and at the same time remove the odd bad or discolored spots. Now boil the tomatoes, without water, for about five to ten minutes, depending on the ripeness, until soft, but not cooked.
Passata making can be a huge job without the magical Passata Machine – a device that separates the skin and seeds from the flesh. This little machine can do in excess of 100 kilograms per hour and is wonderfully designed, easy to operate, durable and very quick to clean. No self respecting Italian household is without one! Within minutes I had processed 30 kilograms of tomatoes into 28.5 kilograms of Passata leaving 1.5 kilograms of seeds and skins to compost, or dry to plant next year.
Bottle the tomatoes in clean canning bottles – do not use the cheap screw on type of bottles, but a good strong bottle with lid that can seal properly. There is no need to sterilise the clean bottles before hand, as it is going to happen after filling them. Put the filled and sealed bottles in a large enough pot that would totally cover the bottles when filled with water. It is good to have a tea towel or some screen in the bottom of the pot, so that the bottles do not stand directly on the heated surface. Now fill the pot with water of about the same temperature as the product is at this stage (prevent bottles from cracking). Heat until the water is boiling and then boil for twenty minutes more. Immediately remove the bottles from the boiling water, if the water starts to cool, water may be sucked into the product.
Cool and label. PRONTO !!
While washing the tomatoes, select the ripest and firmest tomatoes for Bruschetta with tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Mrs BYF cannot be beaten for making the best Bruschetta! ENJOY!
Sabatino Tartufi recently had an extraordinary discovery. The largest White Truffle in history was found on their farms in Umbria. Weighing in at 4.16 lbs, it is a world record!
The truffle is currently locked under security and it will be auctioned with proceeds given to charity. Further details regarding the find and auction to be released soon. Stay tuned!
On a cold rainy Saturday morning we took the kids to the museum (www.otagomuseum.govt.nz). The ‘hands on ‘ science experience’ section for kids caters for all ages and the butterflies in the tropical forest exhibit are a joy. The tropical heat was a treat, but I could not un-layer enough and was perspiring towards the end of our visit. We were in time to see a release of a batch of ‘new’ butterflies and the kids had butterflies perched on their hands and shoulders, and one of them had to be reminded that breathing would not dislodge the persistent butterfly on his arm.
But the most marvelous thing about the museum visit was the ‘science show’, presented by an enthusiastic young paleontologist. This is the type of scientist we need – the non retiring kind – a showman who can make science exciting and fun. His audience ranged from 4 (my grandson) to ancient (me) and everyone was kept on the edge of their seats throughout the show. There was smoking liquid nitrogen, water cold enough to be from the Antarctic, fossils passed around, flaming helium and exploding balloons. Wonderful stuff and the scientist kept everyone in suspense and never disappointed with the outcome of the experiment.
Congratulations to the museum for the contribution I am sure it is creating an early interest in science, especially here, in lovely Dunedin!
I want to state that this post is not a reflection on all quail breeders in New Zealand, with whom I hope to maintain a positive relationship, but an isolated, and hopefully, rare case.
I am trying to get more good unrelated quail (Coturnix coturnix) birds to enhance my breeding programs. Lack of available birds, costs and unwillingness of some breeders to work together in my efforts to enhance the quality of the Coturnix coturnix in New Zealand has forced me to buy eggs and hatch with the hope of finding some good birds among them. Needless to say, it is an uphill battle. I am reporting here on one specific “Breeder” that has sent me three batches of eggs. The first batch had a hatching percentage of 0%. In the same machine were eggs from other breeders which have achieved hatching percentages well in excess of 60%. Consignment two is still in the incubator. Consignment three, of 100 eggs, arrived with 52 visually broken eggs and perhaps many more with hairline cracks – 13 of the unbroken eggs were under 8 g in weight (too small to incubate) – All egg yolks are a palish yellow color, pointing towards very unhealthy and underfed birds. The breakages occurred because the sender cut and stacked the egg trays in such a way that each egg tray actually rested on the eggs below, instead of having the trays supporting each other protecting the eggs (see last photo which is an example – the other photos were actual as the eggs were received). The “Breeder” refuses to reimburse or replace any eggs as he claims that the courier to be at fault. I have used the same courier for hundreds of egg consignments wit good results.