Last month, the family sat down to dinner and my mom announced that tomato season was just around the corner. Since the “sugo crisis of 2008” when we tragically ran out of tomato sauce (we resorted to borrowing from the aunts and at our lowest point used a jar of store bought sauce!!!), she has learned that it’s no longer okay to just randomly choose a date, order tomotoes and just expect everyone to be there. So we all pulled out our calendars and it was decided. September 13 was Sugo Day. (p.s….sugo in Italian means sauce.)
Adriano and I have talked about our family’s tradition of making tomato sauce before. It is always quite a production and quite the site. I’m sure our neighbours love seeing a driveway full of tomatoes and a bunch of Italians shouting at each other.
This year my mom surprised us with ordering 12 bushels instead of our usual 6 or 7. This was to ensure that there is no possible way that we will run out of tomato sauce for the next year.
The process, while time consuming, is easy. We boil the tomatoes until soft and then pass them through the “tomato squeezer”. This machine separates the skin from the rest of the tomato.
Once that is done, we reboil the sauce and then pour them into jars that we’ve added a few leaves of basil to. My mom has collected these mason jars over the years. She’s bought a few, a few are from my aunt and others she and my nonna brought with them from Sicily. They hold a lot of history, stories and, of course, sauce. The basil is grown in the garden and while my mom uses it periodically throughout the year for making pesto or cooking, it’s main raison d’etre is for the sauce.
From start to finish the process takes an entire day. But the efforts are sooooo worth it. You can’t put a value on tomato sauce that is fresh and has no preservatives. While we all gripe and complain while the process takes place (ahem..my dad) no one complains when we sit down to the dinner table to enjoy it.
It’s a tradition that I really appreciate and thank my parents for teaching us. I also thank them for not dragging us to the farm anymore to pick the tomatoes ourselves like they did when we were kids and for trimming the process down to one day instead of three. Thank you!