11 April 2016

Homemade tomato relish

It's wonderful having the time to do a bit of preserving when the opportunity arises.  I bought a 10 kg box of tomatoes for $8 on Friday and on Saturday turned it into about four litres of tomato relish and two litres of tomato sauce.  If you want to try your hand at this, ask your greengrocer if they have any cheaper boxes of tomatoes, or fruits that you can turn into jam. The end of summer, going into autumn, is a good time to ask as the fruit is in season then, will be at its peak flavour and cheaper than at other times of the year. The abundance of produce at that time often encourages greengrocers to reduce the price to move the stock before it over ripens.

In addition to the tomatoes, you'll need added flavourings. I used onions, celery, chilli, oregano, salt, pepper and curry powder as well as vinegar and sugar.
Instead of dicing the tomatoes, I chopped them in a food processor.  Just a quick chop is all they need, you want to retain the texture too.

Clean jars can be sterilised in an oven on 160C for 15 minutes. Make sure the jars are still hot when you add the relish.

This is tomato sauce made for a special pasta dish in mid-winter.
After cooking and before freezing, I put it through a mouli to remove the skins.
The sauce was packed in a plastic tub for freezing.

Tomatoes are a good starting point if you have never done any preserving before. They're usually easy to buy, or grow, and they don't cost too much. If you can buy them at a cheaper price, you'll be able to add jars of good quality relish or sauce to your cupboard or freezer stockpile that you can use during the year.  Only high acid foods, or foods you can add lemon juice or vinegar to, are suitable for preserving in jars but adding the right amount of vinegar, and the sugar that helps balance out the vinegar, will give you the right acid level to keep the relish safe. If you're not sure of your recipe, always freeze large amounts of relish or store smaller amounts in the fridge in sterilised jars.

I'll be giving some of my jars away but most will be stored in the cupboard and then kept in the fridge after opening.  I have frozen the larger quantity of sauce in a plastic container to be used in the dead of winter on some homemade pasta. I'll probably make cheese to go in that meal too.

RECIPE: For every 1 kilogram of tomatoes, add 2 chopped medium onions and 2 sticks of chopped celery, 160 mls vinegar (I use malt vinegar) and ½ cup brown sugar.  Add salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon curry powder, chilli, oregano and any other spice you like. Add all your ingredients to a stockpot and boil for at least four hours on a slow heat until the relish has reduced and thickened. While still hot, add to sterilised jars, turn upside down and leave on the bench overnight to cool.

It will pay off for you to learn a few different ways to store food. We either work hard for the money to buy food or we work hard to grow food, wasting it shouldn't be an option. My next food storage projects are lime cordial that I hope to make today, and rosella jam and tea later in the week. We have rosellas growing in the backyard and will strip those bushes to make way for our winter vegetable garden. You'll find real comfort in eating your own summer foods in the middle of winter. What have you put away for eating later in the year?

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