DISH WITH Vivian Pisano of Colts Neck:
COLTS NECK, NJ: I grew up In Staten Island with a strong Italian heritage, my parents moved here from Campobasso, 🇮🇹 Italy. One of my favorite traditions was ending our summer by jarring fresh tomato sauce with tomatoes that my dad grew.
Since moving to Colts Neck in 2013 I always had intentions of starting this tradition here. Our actual first sauce day here was for my daughter Tessa‘s ninth birthday in 2016, which was spaghetti and meatball themed being her favorite dish. So why not start making and jarring sauce with a few Colts Neck families?
So now every year we do this with our close friends the Nicoletta’s, who we have purchased all the equipment with since our quantities keep getting larger, from a few bushels to over 24. Each bushel yields a dozen jars of sauce-so we jar a few hundred on sauce day now. Every year My parents come to get the show running making sure everything is sanitized. They create workstations and instruct everyone with what to do.
Our good friend Tommy Orgo, now the mayor of Colts Neck, traditionally gets the local tomatoes for us. We start early in the morning and blast Italian tunes in our backyard while the men and kids are on the work stations the women are in the kitchen cooking all kinds of Italian specialties.
With all the working and usually it's a warm day, we always all end up with a dip in the pool by late afternoon. It's a day of everyone working together, cooking, eating and drinking wine and lemon-cello. Then more families come join us and bring empty jars to fill with our sauce. It's great to carry on the family traditions and teach them to our children. We all love sauce day! Everyone has a great time and we enjoy the benefits for months to come!
Vivian's Recipe in her own words: Jarring tomatoes: Cut off any bad spots and then cut the tomatoes in half. Bring a large pot (size depends on how many tomatoes you are processing) with a couple inches of water to a boil and add your cut tomatoes to fill the pot 3/4 way. Bring to a slow boil then continue to simmer for 15 minutes until the skin is nice and tender, stirring often. Transfer to a wicker basket covered with a clean tablecloth to strain for another 10-15 minutes. From here, they go into the tomato grinder, manual or automatic. And yes, we used to do this all with a hand crank grinder! It’s fine if you’re doing small batches but if you plan on doing many bushels each year – trust me – it’s worth the investment in a good electric tomato grinder! Once grinding is done, put the skins extracted by the grinder through one time to extract the remaining sauce (the seeds will get extracted by the grinder). Place lids in boiling water following proper sterilization technique and prepare empty sterilized jars for filling. Place 3-4 washed basil leaves in the bottom of each jar and fill with the tomato puree (leave 1/2 inch at the top). Put sterilized lids on the jars, tighten well and place filled jars in a large processing pot/barrel. Fill with water so jars are submerged and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Remove jars when water cools a bit and store for future use. Check that the seals have taken before storing.
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