Tis the season….for making tomato sauce

Difficulty: Easy
Time:  A single batch takes around an 1.5-2 hours including cooking time  I break it up sometimes by doing it over two nights, cooking the tomatoes one evening and putting them in the fridge, then sieving and bottling the next.
Plastic saved per year: Approximately 12 plastic 2l pet bottles per year ( for a family of 4)
What’s the catch?: You need a little patience to push the mixture through the sieve,  A Mouli might be useful if you have one.


This year one of my great discoveries has been making my own tomato sauce.  I made two or three batches early in the year, just to see if I could, and was really pleased with the results. It even got approval from those harshest of critics, my children (6 and 3):  I was definitely onto a good thing.

The recipe I use is from an Australian Women’s Weekly Pickles and Chutneys book.  I vary the recipe below by replacing the red wine vinegar with half balsamic and half red or white wine vinegar, hence why my sauce is quite dark.  Reduce the sugar at your peril, it can make  the sauce quite vinegary.img_1331img_1332img_1333


Basic Tomato Ketchup

1 teaspoon back peppercorns
6 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2kg tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Tie peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf in a piece of muslin.  Place muslin bag in a large heavy-based saucepan with tomato and onion; bring to a boil.  Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally , about 45 minutes or until onion is soft.  Discard bag.  Cool mixture for 10 mins.

Blend or process mixture until smooth; strain through fine sieve back into same pan.  Add remaining ingredients, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves.  Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until mixture thickens to desired pouring consistency,

Pour hot ketchup into hot sterilised bottles or jars; seal while hot.

MAKES about 1.25 litres (5 cups)

Storage In a cool dark place for about 6 months, refrigerate after opening.






Welcome to Pebble

Welcome to Pebble.

I have been pursuing plastic alternatives as of earlier this year in a bid to decrease my plastic footprint.  I’m far from achieving my goal and have found it to be a journey of discovery and change rather ‘simply’ ceasing plastic consumption.

I have always been aware that plastic is recyclable, but just a little web research revealed a much blacker picture.  Only some plastic can be recycled, but not all of it is.  I don’t have statistics on New Zealand, but USA in 2012 only 9% of plastic was recovered.  Nine percent.  Given the volumes we’re talking about, that is a tiny number.  So the rest goes and sits in landfill, if we’re lucky.  A percentage of it gets swept up in our waterways and into the sea where is devastates marine life and enters the food chain.  Yes, we are now eating fish that are eating plastic.  This year it finally hit me just how unsustainable this model is.  You can’t throw something away: there is no away.

Plastic has become endemic in our lives, it is built into every aspect of the supply chain to such an extent that its presence is appears to be mandatory for our very existence. Going without plastic requires thought and some degree of preparation and organisation. That’s not to say that it’s hard; it’s just different.  An different way of thinking.  A more global, long-term way of thinking.

The fact that I have a young family makes the journey more challenging: if it were just me, I might be happy to make changes that my partner may not want to make, or that I’m not ready to put on my kids.  A case in point: my kids have plastic toys.  I try to buy wooden where I can, but lets face it, a huge percentage of toys are made of plastic.  Non-recyclable plastic.  I don’t know of any ‘toy dump’ where you can take spent toys for resurrection or other recycling.  So I’m not about taking all the plastic out of the house: the kids get to keep their toys.

My focus is more around reducing plastic waste from consumer goods: food and  bathroom products are the big ones.  Any single-use plastic. On a broader scale, this principle applies to any packaging even if it is recyclable: over-packaging is a waste of resources.  So wherever possible I aim to :

– reduce consumption – I try not to buy things I don’t need

– Avoid plastic products in favour of metal, wood or fabric alternatives

– Avoid plastic packaging, especially single-use

– Recycle waste

– Compost food scraps

So I am mid-journey.  I have made some changes, I have many more still to go. Come with me.  Or better yet, start the journey for yourself.