Jess does National Wog Day!

Can anyone guess why my pseudonym is Ping Pong? Well it's because I'm Chinese and apparently we're great at Ping Pong! Which makes it funny that I spent last Saturday making litres and litres (a whole years worth!) of passata  with my boyfriend's Italian family. This annual event is a tradition among many families of Italian heritage and was affectionately coined as 'National Wog Day' in Looking for Alibrandi. The setting for  the day's tomato based activities were in Nonno's beautiful backyard.  


Nonno's old school garden


The day before over 300kgs of tomatoes were bought to be made into passata. The type of tomato used for sauce are the Roma variety due to their sweetness. 


Trailer of Roma tomatoes


More tomatoes


Even more tomatoes

For us (the younger ones with less stamina apparently), the day started at 7:30 am with bottle cleaning assigned as our first task. Everyone else started at 5:30 am, using the extra time to set up machinery and get a head start on cleaning the tomatoes.
  

Bottle cleaning - boring but has to be done!


Clean and stacked


Espresso time

During cleaning the tomatoes are squeezed until their skins break. This helps the next stage of the process where the tomatoes are brought to the boil from hot water. The softened tomatoes are then put through a machine to extract the sauce from the skins and seeds. I'm not 100% sure what the name of the machine is called, imported from Italy this one was labelled  'machinetta pomodoro' literally 'tomato machine'. 



Tomatoes washed and squeezed


Boiling to soften



Machinetta Pomodoro


Hot tomatoes squishy squishy


Throughout the process the sweet scent of ripened tomatoes can be smelt, and as your hunger builds from all the work you begin to crave pizza and pasta like there's no tomorrow.



Glorious red gold


Saucy


Industrial sauce basins

An integral part of the sauce is fresh basil. How much basil one might ask? Like $40 worth! The leaves of the basil were washed and plucked away from the woody stalk.


Carefully cleaning basil


The sauce extracted from the machine is combined with handfuls of basil and boiled until the sauce thickens and there is no foam remaining on the surface. It is important to stir the sauce occasionally to prevent the sauce from boiling over or any bits getting burnt at the bottom.



Ready for the basil + tomato magic to happen


Wah so beautiful!


Two pots going at once for efficiency


Important to stir!

Following boiling, the sauce is ready to be bottled in 750 ml long neck bottles collected over a number of years. The caps for the bottles are new but require sterilisation in boiling water.



Nobody likes germy sauce - sterilisation is a must!



Bottle capping machine 


The bottles of passata are then stacked in styrofoam boxes for the year's consumption. 12 hours later we have produced almost 300 bottles of passata and I got told I would make a good wife one day. Hoorah!



I manned the stacking station


Boxes and boxes of home made passata


I would like to thank my boyfriend's family for letting me take part in their annual tradition and for teaching me an art that may soon be lost. And highlight of the day? - nothing beats the taste of fresh passata on wood oven margherita pizzas, dripping all down the length of your arm (sorry I don't have pictures of these, they were consumed very quickly!).   

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