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Traditional Italian Tomato Sauce Day

Annual Tomato Sauce Family Event

Tomato Preparation

On Sunday I was privileged to take part in the Annual Sauce Day of my friend Deb’s family. I am thankful for my beautiful friend’s generosity and happiness to share this family milestone event.  I am happy that my friend has a family tradition that will continue and bring happiness for many years to come, in whatever form it takes. This post is linked to Thankful Thursday at Kate Says Stuff.

Nine immediate family members, myself and a collection of friends, took part in the day. Sunday was a special day because it was the last time that the Annual Sauce Day event would be conducted at Nonna’s (Grandma’s) home.

Sauce Day is guaranteed to be different next year in terms of the surrounds, however, I have a feeling that all else will remain unchanged.

Nonna passed away 5 years ago and Deb and her Uncle purchased the property. Plans are in progress to commence building two new homes on the site. 

I listened to the family discussing the activities of the day, past sauce days and memories.  A love of the tradition of the day and happy memories of sharing the day with family members who have passed away were recounted.  The value of spending time together as a family, as well as pride in the achievement of a combined outcome was evident.

Family Tradition

The basic process and recipe for the sauce made by Deb’s family remains the same way as it is still done in Nonna’s village today:

  • It is an annual event
  • Sauce is made by the family, for the family for the year ahead
  • The sauce is made with just salt added to the minced tomatoes. This allows the family to use it throughout the year in a variety of dishes as the base ingredient. They add their own preferred herbs and ingredients in the cooking process
  • In the village the sauce preparation and process takes place in the Cantina. This is a cellar area where the bottles are stored the sauce is made then stored
  • The women prepare and make the sauce, the men are not involved. The women start the day with a visit to the Campagnia (community garden) to collect the tomatoes and then they commenced the preparation. Once the sauce is cooking it is lunch time and time for the family to catch up.

The main difference here is that the activity takes place in the back yard of the family home. The tomatoes were purchased rather than grown on a family tended site.  Peter Mac created a modified wizz-bang mincer that is used to speed up the processing of the tomatoes. The male family members participate, as do the children of the family.

The elements of the cooking process and the equipment used all have developed their own tradition, for example the padding in the metal drums that the bottles are slowly raised to boiling point in is Nonna’s old curtains from the 70’s.

This is the day, and the sauce making process in pictures:

Tomatoes, trimmed, cut and squeezed ready for mincing








Peter Mac's Mincing Machine processes the tomatoes 2-3 times








Bottles are filled and capped








Capped bottles are transported to the fire









Filled bottles are carefully laid in water filled drums to be boiled









Lunch Time-home made ravioli with fresh sauce









Bottles are removed from the drum when the water reaches boiling point











Sauce day is re-lived by the family throughout the year as they open each bottle of glorious red tomato goodness. I am looking forward to trying my sauce tonight. I feel like I need to make home made pasta to eat it!

My beautiful friend










A Fresh Legacy 


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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • katesaysstuff March 15, 2012, 9:15 am

    I love this! I used to run a cloth nappy biz, and my manufacturer worked out of his home. One day when I was picking up stock his family was there for a tomato sauce day. It was fascinating to me, all these women chatting and working together. Made me wish my family had a similar tradition.

  • Rhianna March 15, 2012, 2:58 pm

    What a wonderful tradition, made me all tingly to read about it. So wonderful to see these old style ways living on

    • Kyrstie March 20, 2012, 9:38 pm

      Hi Rhianna,
      it was such a great day, I loved it. I have been thinking ever since of starting a special food tradition activity with my boys while they are small. I would love to create a tradition that we can build over the coming years into something special that they will recall with love and carry on themselves.

  • Nicole (SportyMummy) March 15, 2012, 10:33 pm

    Wow! what an interesting post!! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  • Clancy March 16, 2012, 12:28 am

    Ooooh what a wonderfully close connection you must all have. That is just beautiful 🙂 xC

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