Mon
February 6, 2017
Condiments of the Chef

When the season gives us tomatoes, we prepare mouneh

When the season gives us tomatoes, we prepare mouneh

Each year near the end of summer, when the tomatoes are ripe and the peppers are chili red, we take a few days off from the city and head to our village Anjar to prepare Mouneh (preserves).

Preparing preserves is so much fun for us. The family gathers and helps around. Neighbors bring coffee. Then at night, when we are cooking the hot tomato paste on the fireplace that my late father had made, we steal a shovel of burning charcoal from the fire and enjoy a barbecue dinner or grill some corn on the cob that my Uncle brings from his garden when he returns home from work.

Our grandparents used to prepare many different types of preserves, but as refrigerators became available in each house, and supermarkets sprouted in each corner of town, many preserves are now store- bought. Also since most produce are grown in greenhouses, some people forgot all about preserves. However, we still prepare the preserves we use and love most: tomato concasse, tomato paste, hot tomato paste, hot pepper paste, red pepper flakes, roasted red pepper preserve, and pizza sauce. One other special preserve we prepare mid-spring is cooked yogurt (well, that's another story).

It is a great family ritual that we hope to keep alive not simply to preserve the tradition, and not only to savor the family gathering and fun nights, but also since:

  • using preserves saves time during cooking, and
  • in-season produce is more delicious and nutritious than those grown in unnatural conditions, such as a greenhouses
  • and because, as mom says:
“at least we know what we’re putting in our jars!”
Tomato concasse

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Sea salt

Preparation

In a pot of boiling water

  • Blanch the tomatoes.

On a large sieve

  • Peel the tomatoes.
  • Dice them using a french fries cutter.

let the juices run down the sieve.

In clean jars

  • Pack the concassé in the jars tightly and to the top.
  • Squeeze out the air.
  • Close the lid tightly.

In a pot of hot water

  • immerse the jars in the water and let boil for a at least 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Remove the jars and check that the lids are still secured tightly.
  • Place the jars upside down and let cool.
If the lid of any jar comes off, replace the lid and boil again, or use the content of the jar first thing.
Tomato concasse
Tomato paste

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Sea salt

Preparation

  • Wash the tomatoes well
  • Sort them: keep the hard ones to prepare concasse, throw away the rotten ones, etc..
  • Remove the stems and any bruises or imperfections
  • Cut the tomatoes and throw them in a tomato churning machine
  • Add a handful of sea salt to the tomatoes as they are churned into a purée
  • Push the tomato purée through a sieve
  • Squeeze out all the juices and throw away the remaining seeds and skin

In a large shallow copper pot

  • Pour the pure tomato juice through a sieve into a large copper pot which is properly set on the fireplace
  • Monitor the fire and add the necessary wood to keep the heat consistent
  • Once the juice starts boiling and thickening, start stirring the pot to make sure the paste doesn't stick to the pot and get burned
  • Throw in a handful of sea salt
  • Once a while, clean the sides of the pot with a flexible spatula
  • After the mixture starts to thicken, taste to adjust the salt
  • Once the mixture thickens and resembles a paste, remove it from the heat

In clean dry jars

  • Instantly fill the canning jars with the hot tomato paste
  • Tap the jars to make sure all air comes out
  • Immediately, close the lids tight
Tomato paste
Hot tomato paste

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Aleppo peppers
  • Sea salt

Preparation

Preparing the pepper

  • Wash and dry the peppers well
  • Slice them and discard the stems and the seeds
  • Grind them using a meat grinder

Preparing the tomato juice

  • Wash the tomatoes well
  • Sort them: keep the hard ones to prepare concasse, throw away the rotten ones, etc..
  • Remove the stems and any bruises or imperfections
  • Cut the tomatoes and throw them in a tomato churning machine
  • Add a handful of sea salt to the tomatoes as they are churned into a purée
  • Push the tomato purée through a sieve
  • Squeeze out all the juices and throw away the remaining seeds and skin

Cooking the paste

In a large shallow copper pot

  • Pour the pure tomato juice through a sieve into a large copper pot which is properly set on the fireplace
  • Monitor the fire and add the necessary wood to keep the heat consistent
  • Once the juice starts boiling and thickening, add the pepper and start stirring the pot to make sure the paste doesn't stick to the pot and get burned
  • Throw in a handful of sea salt
  • Once a while, clean the sides of the pot with a flexible spatula
  • After the mixture starts to thicken, taste to adjust the salt
  • Once the mixture thickens and resembles a paste, remove it from the heat

In clean dry jars

  • Instantly fill the canning jars with the hot tomato paste
  • Tap the jars to make sure all air comes out
  • Immediately, close the lids tight
Hot tomato paste
Hot pepper paste

Ingredients

  • Aleppo peppers
  • Sea salt

Preparation

  • Wash and dry the peppers well
  • Slice them and discard the stems and the seeds
  • Layer them in metallic trays
  • Place the trays under the sun

Leave them under the sun for a few hours

  • Grind the peppers using a meat grinder
  • Pour the pepper purée in shallow trays with a generous amount of sea salt

Leave the trays under the sun for days. Stir them periodically until they are cooked and all the water has evaporated.

In clean dry jars

  • Fill the paste tightly in canning jars and cover them tightly as well.
Hot pepper paste
Red pepper flakes

Ingredients

  • Red peppers
  • Chili peppers

Preparation

  • We seed and slice Aleppo peppers.
  • We place the red pepper slices on metal trays under the sun for days until they are completely dry and they crack when we try to break them.
  • Then we crush them using a food processor.
  • We sieve the flakes. Keep the larger flakes to use as garnish for dips and sides.
  • We add to the the powder some salt and rub in a little olive oil to give the paprika a shine.
  • Then we put it in the sun for a few hours.
Red pepper flakes
Red pepper preserve

Ingredients

  • Red bell peppers
  • Sea salt
  • Vegetable oil

Preparation

  • cut the peppers in half lengthwise.
  • On a baking sheet
  • Layer the peppers on the baking sheet.
  • brush them with vegetable oil.

In a hot oven

  • roast the peppers.

Let cool in a plastic bag.

In a colander

let rest in a colander till all the water runs down.

In clean dry jars

  • layer the peppers in a jar, add a pinch of sea salt and fill with vegetable oil to the top.
  • Close the lids tight.
Red pepper preserve
Pizza sauce

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Preparation

In a pot of boiling water

  • Blanch the tomatoes.

In a large pot

  • Peel the tomatoes.
  • Dice them using a french fries cutter.

On the hot fireplace

  • Cook the tomato until the water evaporates.
  • Add salt, black pepper, and a generous amount of dried oregano.
  • Cook until the sauce thickens.

In a blender

  • Blend the mixture.

In clean dry jars

  • Pour the sauce in the jars while still hot.
  • Top each jar with tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Close tightly.
Pizza sauce
Please rotate your device or visit momsnotes.me on a desktop computer.