Traditions are a beautiful thing. There are some people who frown upon the word “traditional,” maybe because they think it means boring, repetitive or the norm but there is so much more to a tradition than hanging on to a habitual event.
We have our sporting events, picnics and annual camping retreats but they always seem to change slightly each year. Sometimes a group of people fall out of touch. Maybe the original location is no longer used. In our family, however, there is one tradition that’s always the same; sauce making.
Of course some things have evolved for the best like technology and canning equipment, but the most important aspects are still the same. The tomatoes still fill up an enormous blue tarp early in the morning. They get picked carefully and scrubbed by hand in a large, water filled tub. Best of all, the camaraderie remains tight knit and familiar. It’s a lengthy, all day event coordinated by the one and only, Pam, The Innkeeper.
By the end, everyone is exhausted. The crowd varies slightly each year but the usual suspects tend to make an appearance at one point or another. Even if they can’t participate in the entire production, they pitch in when needed. Special guests will even show up from time to time, like my Nonno to dictate the tradition he started long ago or an ancient family friend who “can’t get sauce like this anywhere else.”
While we love the company and wouldn’t trade it for the world, the fact of the matter is, it’s easy to perform the process on your own. Us Corrado’s only use the large and in charge equipment because we prepare for years of feeding many mouths. We’re Italian. It’s a way of life. Normal eaters? They could use their regular kitchen inventory to complete a decent amount of jars.
Many directions you’ll find these days include various ingredients but Mama C and the Tomato Gang tend to keep it simple with tomatoes and salt. This does mean, however, that when you prepare the sauce for your meal of choice, it must be done in a certain way for maximum enjoyment (see steps for that below).
But maybe you don’t want to do it like Pam. If that’s the case, here are a few sites that could help you start your own canning tradition. Pam just finished up for the year but if you think an in-person tutorial would be best, don’t hesitate to join in for the 2013 season, with a warning of course, and ready to get your hands dirty!
Sites for Canning
3. Local Lemons
4. Ball Canning
1. Add a thin layer of oil to the bottom of your sauce pan
2. Bring to a low heat
3. Drop in chopped garlic and fresh basil (amounts vary with preference)
4. Sear your choice of meat – best with sausage, pork, or homemade meatballs (if pre-cooked, no need to sear pre-sauce)
5. Add sauce to the pan and let slowly cook for hours (if time allows)
6. Sauce should thicken slightly or continue cooking until seared meat is fully cooked
Until Next Time,
Too Tradit to Quit