This year we got around 2 kilos of blackcurrants from the bushes in our little back garden.

We’ve turned the whole lot into delicious jam!!

Lazy Pasta Sauce

It’s market day in Bury and I’ve just been down there to buy a pound of steak mince and some mushrooms to make a bolognese for tea tonight. No idea where the beef came from unfortunately, I have thought of asking them but there never seems to be the opportunity, they are always so busy when I go. Local grass-fed would be best, but I just don’t know.

Anyway, I will make the bolognese with my very own tomato pasta sauce. There are some really nice-looking recipes for passata and pasta sauce around the interwebs (including one at Urban Grown / Trafford Eco-House), but most of them seem to require a Mouli or passata machine, and being a backyard producer, I just don’t grow toms in sufficient quantity to warrant getting one.

So I have devised my own recipe / technique, and this is it:

To fill a big jar such as one of the ones in the photo:

– a couple of red onions
– three or four garlic cloves
– a couple of good sprigs of basil
– a jar of cheap tomato purée
– salt and pepper to taste
– enough tomatoes to make up the volume of the jar

Basically you chop it all up, chuck it into a food blender and ‘whizz’ it as Mr Ramsay would say. Pour it into the sterilised jar (I normally sterilise by pouring a kettle of boiling water into it / over it). If the mixture doesn’t fill the jar right up to the neck, pour it back into the blender and add some more toms. Repeat until the jar is full. Screw on the sterilised lid.

The next bit is the clever bit – pasteurising your sauce. This next step will cook it to release all the flavours, and preserve it at the same time. Put the jar into a large pan and cover completely with water. Bring the water to the boil (preferably using an induction hob if you have one) and keep at boiling point for half an hour. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Voilà! Your sauce should keep for twelve months without a problem. Tonight I will be using sauce I made last September (I think it was).

I have thought of trying to do without the jar of tomato purée, but it does help to thicken the sauce and the jar itself is quite handy as it holds exactly the right amount of finished sauce to use as a home-made pizza topping.

Of course I will use only a proportion of one jar of sauce in the bolognese tonight, tomorrow I will use some of it to make a cheese and pepper pizza, and I will divvy up the rest and freeze it. The good thing about making the sauce in jars is that you can store far more surplus tomatoes this way than you ever could in the freezer, and cook a tasty sauce at the same time! Plus of course if there is a power cut, you don’t lose the lot 😉