How to bottle love: learning the artistry of tomato sauce

Hi, everyone! I’ve decided it’s the time to share a personal experience with our readers. An experience of learning one of the most important southern Italian traditions (from a lovely Calabrian family): preparing tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. How naive was I, expecting to get just the recipe for this blog and take some nice photos – and how I ended up all covered in tomato juice, tired, slightly blistered, and incredibly satisfied.

Lesson learned – it is not about “cooking”, it is a family uniting activity, hard enough to get physically tired – mainly because of the QUANTITY. The sauce is being prepared in one or two days, in the amount for a year ahead, for the whole family. Imagine this. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning, 130 kilos of freshly picked tomatoes, still warm from the sun, delivered to “production point” (storage room in the basement), few cases of empty clean bottles are waiting to be filled, there’s a special tomato processor prepared… “Here’s your apron, here’s your knife – start cutting!”

I asked If the sauce making day can be considered the most important day of the year. The answer was “No, the most important is when we cut the pig at Christmas! But this is the most important summer day for sure!”

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered where the best Italian tomatoes come from, you should’ve guessed correctly by now – the south of course! Hectares of southern fields produce those juicy tomatoes we all love with a slice of local mozzarella. However, the land this fertile always brings a lot of work. A large part of the southern population is involved in agriculture. Coming back to tomatoes – in summer, the sauce making is an inevitable activity of almost every Calabrian household. If you are ever hosted at someone’s home in the south of Italy in August, get ready to be invited to help!

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However, to be completely fair, not everyone here lives off the land, and home-made conservation nowadays is the product of tradition and love for good quality food. Because the canned stuff from the supermarket is not comparable to THIS! 🙂

Here are some more photos of the process. And as for the recipe – I’m ready to share it with anyone who’s interested!

Naturally, Italians express their feelings with food. Having spent some quality time in the South, I’ve learned how much love is put into cooking, and how much they care about the quality of the ingredients. Anyway, here’s how bottled love looks like in the south (of course, these are “Peroni” bottles :)) I could hardly avoid licking my fingers while bottling the stuff 🙂 Tastes amazing! 

P.S. Anyone who wants to come participate next August – bookings are accepted 😉

  • Mìs Corday

    Homemade salsa, the most delicious tomato sauce that can go on spaghetti and pizza. SLURP!