This summer we are having our best ever crop of tomatoes. There is one reason for that – we are saving our water. Last year we had a water shortage and it hit our tomatoes hard; we decided then if that we were going to keep growing our own we needed a plan. Short of finding a spring under our house in town, the best choice was to recycle some of our waste water. By switching to an environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid, we can now feed what would have been wasted water directly to our tomatoes. Water to swish out the coffee pot after breakfast is also well appreciated by the tomatoes; they like caffeine. So if your garden is looking a little dry already this summer, it is not much of a lifestyle change required to bring it back to lush, green and fruitful.
On the subject of fruit, did you know tomato technically is one? We eat a lot of tomatoes at our place, but most of them go into making spaghetti sauce and relish. Tomato relish is wonderful versatile and the old-fashioned one I make tastes really good. There are some simple rules for safe preserving of food. Make sure everything is clean, sterile and that you use good quality ingredients. If your fruit is damaged, old or rotten, then that will be the predominant flavour of your end result.
Always sterilise your jars (cook your spotlessly clean jars in a 180C oven for 10 minutes), remembering that if here is bacteria in the jar, it has the potential to spoil your hard work. Most relishes use a combination of vinegar and sugar to preserve the food. The acidity of the vinegar helps prevent bacteria from growing, and if it does grow, the fructose component of the sugar will actually displace the water from the bacteria, preventing it from growing. Pretty clever, aye?
If you have never preserved before, relish is a great place to start. It is quick, easy and cheap to make – and it tastes delicious!
Kia makona, Mawera Karetai x
Old fashioned Tomato Relish
- 1.7 Kg tomato
- 900gms onion
- 2c brown sugar
- 2 Tsp curry powder (hot)
- 4 dessert spoon dry mustard
- 6 T cornflour
- Enough vinegar to mix to a thin paste
- 2 tblsp salt
Boil tomato, sugar and onion until soft then process to desired consistency and return to heat. Mix all remaining ingredients and add to tomato mixture.
Cook for further 5 minutes then bottle in small, clean, oven sterilised jars. Place cap on immediately. Any jars that fail to seal may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 month.