A few weeks ago I helped bel fidanzato's mum, dad and brother with bottling tomatoes. Bel fidanzato was at work, but it didn't matter as it was a small operation. There were not as many tomatoes this year for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that there is a cinghiale - wild boar - living in our future home! The old 'farmers' who look after the land have not seen this wild boar, but he leaves his horrible foot prints around, and has destroyed a lot of the crops. Have you ever seen a wild boar? Nasty things. I have only ever seen them in Sardinia and was very scared. They are dangerous and grow into massive beasts.
So, we had less tomatoes this year but more then enough to keep us going. When bel fidanzato and I eventually live in our future home, we will learn (from the old farmers) how to look after the crops and then hopefully watch them flourish!
To bottle tomatoes you first need to collect them and wash them. These tomatoes are not the perfect, round, bright red ones you find in supermarkets. They come in all shapes and sizes, often are ugly but the taste cannot be beaten!
The tomatoes then need to be chopped up - not too small. Also keep the skin on them, no need to peel them or anything! You'll need to have some well cleaned bottles and a wooden spoon or something to push the tomatoes down with.
All you need to do is start putting the chopped tomatoes into the bottle, and use the spoon to help you push them down. Don't mash up the tomatoes too much by pushing with the spoon. If the tomatoes are really juicy you can drain a little of the juice out before closing the bottles firmly.
Once all the bottles are full you need to put them into a large container. You are going to fill this container with water and then boil it, with the bottles inside. We boiled ours over the fire place as we were at the country property. You need to boil the bottles for an hour or so, once the water has started to actually boil. There is no hard and fast rule though as I am sure ours were boiling longer then that! They then need to be left in the water overnight, and the next day you can take them out and store them away for the winter time.
Easy really! Bel fidanzato's parents ofter bottle one or two bottles at home. Here in Italy, you find that friends, neighbours - who ever - just turn up at your door with crates of fresh tomatoes without warning. Bel fidanzato's cousin called us last night to come and collect some tomatoes from his plants as he could not get through them all. I've gone from never having picked a tomatoe in my life, to being quite the expert. You have to eat as many tomatoes as you can while they are fresh (so lots of tomatoes salads, pasta with fresh tomatoe sauce etc...) then not to waste the rest, just bottle one or two bottles of the remainder tomatoes at home. Bel fidanzato's parents are bottling a random bottle or two in the kitchen most days as the tomatoes are still coming in thick and fast!