Thursday, 19 December 2013

From the kitchen | Tomato relish

As head of shopping and cooking in the household, I've been learning some painful lessons about how to incorporate our kitchen garden produce into our meals. Or rather, what not to do. A bit of sleep deprivation hasn't been helping. (And it's only a bit: Juliet is a great sleeper and has slept through five of the last seven nights at only 10-11 weeks old. Last night, it was her big sister keeping me up but that's another story.)

For years now, I have ordered a weekly or fortnightly box of fruit and vegetables from Sydney Fresh (they are excellent). I have moved to an automatic fortnightly order of a small box since the kitchen garden began producing. But we have so much of our own produce now that I need to move to tailored orders on an as-needed basis. Actually, I needed to do that two weeks ago before the last two orders took mildly-sleep-deprived me by surprise.

The bottom line is that we are overwhelmed with veges at the moment. We have a glut of tomatoes and cucumbers and we've just finished a glut of zucchini.

I knew I'd need to look into preserving and a few months ago I got myself a copy of the Women's Weekly Preserves bible. First cab off the rank was a relish to deal with the roma tomatoes. 1.5 kilograms of peeled(!) tomatoes, a couple of onions, half a bottle of malt vinegar, a load of brown sugar, and some mustard powder, curry powder and cayenne pepper resulted in about one litre of tomato relish.  It looks rather handsome in four "Bonne Maman" jars that I sterilised in the dishwasher (hot rinse cycle without detergent does the trick according to Women's Weekly).

What I have learned from the experience is that peeling tomatoes is a sloooooow process. If anyone has tips on peeling tomatoes, I am all ears.  I also learned (or at least remembered) that my cheapie kitchen scales are not particularly accurate or easy to use. But I do happen to know that one of the presents for me under the tree this year will be a set of electronic scales.

p.s. I only just read freefalling's comment about tomato relishes on a previous post after I attempted this and wrote this blog post.  For future reference, I should definitely try this recipe and this one too.  And I have to wait three months before opening one of these little jars to let the flavours improve.


Rosemary said...

Drop them in a bowl of boiling water for a few seconds. A bit of experimentation is involved. That should do it.

head in the sun said...

How exciting - your very own home-made stuff!
My brother-in-law, who is a really keen cook, has asked for a set of electronic scales too - I was out examining the selection available at Myer yesterday. There's so many!

errr-shudder....peeling tomatoes.
No. No patience for that job.

Kirsten Lynn said...

Rosemary, do you mean for sterilising or sealing? I was trying to work out if there was something special you needed to do to "seal" the jar.

Letty, mum got me a Salter electronic scale. It never quite got wrapped so I got to test it out when trying to make pavlova for the first time last night. Seemed to work well.

Rosemary said...

Whoops, I was talking about peeling tomatoes. I should have been more specific :D

I sterilise stuff in the dishwasher on its high temperature cycle.

Kirsten Lynn said...

Thanks Rosemary. If I try this recipe again, I'll try that tip. I suspect I will try a no-peal recipe next!

Julie said...

ahhh a carilion of tomatoes ...