WHOLESOME TRADITIONS – PASSATA DAY

One of the things we love about food is it is so often central to our special memories.  Food can galvanize a nation, make friends of strangers and help define who we are in the world.

We’ve noticed something interesting over the last couple of years, when it comes to preserving time we are hearing from grandparents that they are getting together with the grandkids to create their own rituals and traditions…

Kind of like this one that was shared with us recently…

alibrandi pasata making

“My Nona Maria and Nono Joseph arrived by boat from Italy in the 60’s and set up their family home (complete with white columns and concrete lions) off Racecourse Road in Flemington.   When I was a kid Sauce Making Day was an annual tradition demanding the participation of all three generations, with roles assigned strictly by family seniority.

Work began in the week before old pallets were collected and broken down to feed the fire.  A feature of the brick and concrete backyard was the fire pit.   In the days before Sauce Making Day the fire would be stoked and a huge industrial pot would be boiling away to sterlise the families huge collection on CUB long necks.

Sauce Making Day always started early.  At least one representative of each family had to be present to claim your two-dozen or so bottles of pasata to supply your family for the year.

The fire would be roaring and the second oldest uncle would boil up the tomatoes whilst each of the pasata stations was set up in the backyard.  One for the tomato squashing, one for salting, one for bottling and capping.

The youngest son and therefore lowest ranking member of the family was my dad who happened to be the strongest.  It was his job to crank the metal handle on the ridiculously old hand press whilst a grandchild had the messy (and dangerous) job of feeding tomatoes in the top of the press and squishing them down with a piece of specially carved wood towards the metal press.

Home-made tomato passataThe pasata was then salted and bottled.  The oldest uncle present then performed the most important task of the day – placing one solitary basil leaf in each long neck before it was sealed.

Whilst the men and grandchildren were making the pasata, Nona, the youngest Aunty and any other women who were in attendance would all be in the kitchen cooking up the lunchtime feast.  A table full of traditional pasta dishes made with the last of the previous year’s pasata and Nono’s home made salami.  Nono would bring out his grappa (made on another day in the shed in Flemington) and entertain us by signing old Italian love songs before it was back to work.

nonno singing cropped

Nonna passed away in 2012, the Uncles, Aunties and the grandchildren have all grown older, so Sauce Day as I knew it no longer happens.  My daughter is nearly a year old now and there is no time at the moment to make pasata, but one day I hope I will and start our own Sauce Day memories.”

Wholefoods Wholesome Traditions – we’re here to help…

Start your own Sauce Day memories…

We have already started ordering sauce tomatoes for people either by the kilo or the 10-kilo box.  The quality is really good and the price point has started out quite reasonably and we only expect it to get better as the season goes on.

If you choose not to construct your own fire pit, home made press and recycled long necks we can help fill the gaps on any equipment you might need, not just for pasata but for all your autumnal jam, chutney and preserve making…and if you get into ‘making the pig’ at Easter we can help you with some of your terrine and salami making supplies too.

Along the back wall check out our:

  • Jam funnels
  • Food Mill or Mouli (for crushing the tomatoes)
  • Maslin Pans
  • Thermometers
  • Drum Sieves
  • Terrine, Mason or Fowlers Vacola Jars
  • Pectins & Setters.