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tomatoes + pomarola boot camp

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 About a year ago, my husband hauled me out of bed at the crack of dawn.
“We're going to miss the window if you don't come now!” Pulling my sweatshirt on, I thought it might be something romantic.
“I've got a conference call at 9 and we need to pick these figs. The hornets are devouring them. We'll have no jam”
Rubbing my eyes but too tired to argue, I grabbed a basket and steadied the ladder.
“Concentrate, for God's sake, the ladder's shaking”.
Repressing truly evil thoughts, I slowly woke up to the sound of figs plopping into my basket.
Two hours later, I was abandoned to make our annual fig jam. I boiled, stirred and scrupulously sterilized the jars. Then, stupidly, I went off on a tangent.
I won't add any sugar. I'll just slop the fig gloop into the jars.
Wallowing in my domestic ignorance, I didn't even register that sugar is a century-old food preservative.
Two days later, when I went to inspect my jars, there was a slight odor. I ignored it. A week later, two tops had blown off and the jars were rattling and hissing next to each other. They were about to explode.
Out trusty housekeeper, Lina, quickly dealt with the clean-up and reassured me that it was just a bad year.
“It happens to the best of us”.
Mmm bet it never happens to you, I thought!
Understandably, the very thought of bottling or pickling makes me anxious.
Unfortunately, I'm alone again, but this time, with pounds of tomatoes. In these parts, if you don't make Pomarola or Tomato Sauce for the Winter you might as well sell up and move back to the city.
So, after a mild panic attack, I calmed down and called Rosina.
She arrived at 9 am ready for action. I was suitably impressed and intimidated by her 'balls to the wall' attitude. I felt like I was in Pomarola Boot Camp.
We washed the Pomarola machine, the tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion and basil and set to work. I took copious notes and photos to record every detail. She ordered me to stir the sauce, under no circumstances should it stick. It smelt delicious. I marveled at her proficiency as she strode around the kitchen.
Then came the bit I was dreading – the sealing of the jars. Rosina poured the sauce into the containers, sealed them tightly and tipped them upside down. She patiently waited for them to pop. When they pop, they are hermetically sealed and won't explode.
You do one, you'll never learn if you just watch” she ordered.
I did exactly what she did and waited for my jar to pop.
Ten minutes went by, then twenty, then three hours. Mine never popped!
I surrender, I cannot make Pomarola or jam without help.
But what's a girl to do with pounds more tomatoes?
Err, make sure Rosina is free next Thursday! Share on Facebook
Misty Buffum 15/03/2012
I found this amusing, very to read. I dont laugh at your impatience, lack of knowledge in any of it, but, more like your humor in looking at it and then sharing it with us. The honesty thats there in it as well. I found it rather cute. I read it thinking, wishing, we somehow lived closer. I to was very scared about canning. I can remember being a child and having my mother scream at us for going through the house to fast as she was canning and the pressure cooker will explode she said, talk about...
Gina Swartz 23/09/2011
Do not lose faith in your canning abilities! Before you know it, you'll be teaching others (hey--you can charge a little and make it a class of your own!) Expecting perfection the first time you try it is just being too hard on you. Have patience. You will be a pro in no time! Oh, and for the figs, why not try honey? It is a perfectly acceptable substitute for sugar! I used it for a zucchini/pepper relish and it turned out great! Much luck to you!
cleopatra 28/08/2011
hello from sunny Cyprus. Can both you and Rosina fly to us here and we can make some jam and pomarola - crash course? i promise you time by the sea - at a beautiful spa! what do you say?! i loved Brad's 9am conference call life style.
Chris Hentschel 22/08/2011
My tip for a great easy desert. Ripe figs, a large tablespoon of fresh ricotta all drenched in a grappa and raisin concoction (uvetta al liquore) sold all over Italy under the Toschi brand. Yummy!
Jeane Rovillo 22/08/2011
Oh I am betting it will be delicious as everything you cook! Wish I could have been there to help! Great story about the figs! I think my new goal in life is to buy a place nearby! Love hearing your adventures!
Edward Walsh 22/08/2011
I don't actually believe for one minute that your husband has the authority to haul you out of anywhere! :) When are you marketing these in London? Stefania and I are utterly bored with Sainsbury's choice
Selby 22/08/2011
When canning in the US, we "cook" the filled jars in gently boiling water for a 30-45 minutes..
Richard Andrews 22/08/2011
Looks yummy!
Carole Stone 22/08/2011
It all sounds very dodgy to me but I bet it tastes delicious!

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