Making the sauce, Italian-style

14 Mar

Melbourne, how did you spend Monday’s public holiday? At the Moomba festival, maybe? Hanging out on a beach? Relaxing at a barbecue? How nice for you. I spent it making sauce in nonna’s backyard. Now, if you’ve never made the sauce before, you might imagine a charming scene with tarantella music and handkerchiefs on heads and ethnic types separating tomatoes from their skins as though such an activity filled them with joy and delight.

Free flowing sauce

If you have made the sauce before, you will know that there’s a lot of whinging about which family members haven’t shown up and who isn’t pulling their weight. Your clothes look like you’ve been hanging out with Dexter and your hands sting from too much contact with acidic tomatoes. It’s a non-unionized work place, there are no occupational health and safety requirements and there are no scheduled breaks, mind you there is no shortage of espresso and panettone either. You might be well caffeinated, but it’s still bloody hard work. You have to wash, squash, bottle, seal and cook 300 bottles of sauce. It takes time and it takes effort and there’s no singing, no dancing and no one with a handkerchief on their head, not even my dad.

The good news is you do get paid. Your immediate labour is rewarded with a big plate of ravioli with the new sauce. Your take home pay is a year’s worth of sauce made with Koo-Wee-Rup tomatoes (thanks Zio Giuseppe!) and Spotswood labour. Missing Moomba, which from all accounts is pretty crap anyway, is clearly a small price to pay.

Tomatoes in boxes

Empty bottles

Washing tomatoes

Squashing tomatoes

Cut tomatoes

Basil for the bottles

Bottle inspection

First sauce of the day

Sauce machine in action

At the sauce table

Sauce for filling

Filling the bottles

Bottles with sauce

Bottle tops

Sealing bottles

Packing bottles

Putting bottles in barrels

Bottles in barrels

Cooking the bottles

Nonna with ravioli



2 Responses to “Making the sauce, Italian-style”

  1. mira goes to market April 4, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    This reminds me of my own childhood in Adelaide. I now live in Canada, and do this on a very small scale, but my Serbian folks used to do this. Well done on your blog!

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