In the Lovely town of Stara Moravica there still exist many people who know exactly how to preserve, for the winter, everthing

tomato adventures that grows in their vegetable patch.  Within the bounds of many "village fields" and close to the mud brick built houses there is much delicious produce looking healthy and fat dispite the serious drought in Vojvodina.  The lake has disappeared, the stream has become a trickle and many large fields have dry, desicated crops, half the normal size.

There are fat rosey tomatoes, mini cucumbers for pickling, cabbage for fermenting, and shining peppers waiting to be made into Ajvar.  The neighbour was on a tomato juice binge when we visited and we stopped to watch her with her son, friend and mother chopping all the hard bits out and into small chunks.  Buckets of wonderful fat looking tomato pieces were lining up to go through this ingenious machine that separates the chewy bits and pips from the soft flesh and juice.

tomato pressingThe tomatoes are packed down with a thing like a short fat base ball bat, into this machine and a handle is turned to draw the pieces into the separator.  The rubbish drops out through a tube into a bucket destined for the pig and the juice and flesh runs down a shute and into a large bucket.  It is such a simple machine, can we get something like this in the UK?  let me know if anyone has such a mchine. contact   It is a bit like a mincer but with a different gadget on the end.  Does anyone here privately grow enough tomatoes to make tomato juice and store in bottles by the dozen?  This summer has not been a ripening summer to date!

After the separating process is complete the juice is poured into a big vat/twotomato pressing handled Kotlich set in a half oil barrel that has been adapted for cooking over.  Low down in the side is a door which opens in onto the fire base.  The Kotlich sits on the barrel and there is usually a chimney going out from the back about half way up.  The tomato juice is brought up to the pasteurizing temperature, "high temperature, short time" or maybe they are actually cooking it?  My Hungarian was not good enough to ask!

These dear neighbours are continually working on their land.  No large tractors, hours of labourious weeding in between the rows.  The energy they use most of course is the sun.  Secondly it is their own energy which they use unstintingly.  It is a real example to me as I neglect my vege patch regularly because I am too busy or too tired.  It is not my priority because I do have some cash and can buy stuff/food from the shops if I need to.  But for an economy that is short on cash and long on time and food possiblities, nothing will save you in the winter if you have not taken every opportunity to make your preserves.  There is a corner shop (although several have closed over the last 3 years) but you may not have any cash to just pop out and buy something.

I am challenged to make more of my garden and to take nothing for granted.  Preserving in all it's many facets should be something we all practice and know how to do.  Can we do this without buying bigger and bigger deep freezes.

Stara Moravica Village farm house is a great place to stay if you want to explore a village full of tradition and village skills.