Sunday, 10 January 2010

Hot Summer Nights and hot sauce and jam report.

We are in the midst of our second heatwave for the season already with todays temperature expected to reach 43oC. The same tomorrow. Luckily we do have airconditioning. I know it is not as hot as some country areas of Australia are and that they think we are a bunch of whingers, but it's all about what you are used to. I think we are going to have to get used to this kind of heat.
Where is the best place to sleep on a hot Summer night? Not inside in drying airconditioning. It's better than no cooling but I think my boys had the best sleep last night with temps ranging from a balmy 26-32 degrees.
Under the stars, on the trampoline! (covered in bug spray)
Apparently it was cool enough to roll up in a thick blanket!

When we were kids, we slept on our front lawn which had the best grass. In the morning I remember the milky having to pick his way between us to deliver the milk to the front door (there were 7 of us). There was no air-con and if we were inside, the only relief was a wet towel or flannel. I spent the night moving from one slightly cool spot on the mattress to another, or leaning up against the wall beside the bed. Some siblings preferred the floor.

I am pleased to report that despite some glitches like forgetting to stir the jam and a heavy spice hand with the sauce, the apricot jam and sauce making endeavors were successful. One critic said the jam was "the best jam I ever tasted in my life", high praise indeed. I was just happy they were eating it! The bottom of the pot caught just as the jam was setting which made it turn more of a golden brown than apricot amber but it still tastes good. I am sure the next batch will be better.

Was it worth it? In money terms, Coles brand of jam costs around $5kg and that includes whatever pectin or gelatine they use. My jam was strictly fruit and sugar. That's it. Equal quantities. There's no need to make it complicated. It does taste a thousand times better than most supermarket jams if I do say so myself. The cost? 2kg apricots $5kg, 2kg sugar $2.30kg so a total of $7.30 for 6 500g jars of jam, making it $2.76kg. That's even cheaper than homebrand! So totally and completely worth it for the results. And that was with shop bought apricots, not backyard apricots which are even more flavourful. Of course there are incidental costs such as cooking fuel and cellophane covers but another bonus is, I can recycle the jars myself reduce recycling of glass costs. (and space in my recycling bin). A winner all round!
The sauce was more work for sure. as I said I was a bit heavy handed with the spice and as a result, it has earned the name of Pa-zang! Still, it gets the thumbs up of approval with it being preferred for use on last nights tea without prompting from me. We had a simple tea of French toast (using up more stale bread) some with Pa-zang! and some with apricot jam. Very tasty!
Cost wise, the box of tomatoes cost $9.00. From that I made 3lt of sauce and 2lt of pasta sauce (using onions and capsicum). Plus spices, onions, garlic etc. $2.10 for the onions for both, $3.00 for the capsicum. Spices were from my cupboard and I won't count those. So a total of $14.10 for 5lt of product. The pasta sauce I normally buy  would cost on average about $2.00 a jar, so say $6.00 worth of pasta sauce (though of course mine is superior). That would leave $8.10 cost for 3lt of sauce. I usually buy Rosella 2lt containers which cost me  around $6 so $9 for 3lt. So you can see I am ahead, but not by much. It was more time and labour intensive. Was it worth it? I think so. I have a superior fresh made product (though I won't knock Rosella sauce as such) and am reducing recycling. Pasta sauce in particular annoys me. For each meal, I need to use 3 jars. It seems such a waste of resources for a single use. I have frozen the pasta sauce I made and it will be used on Tuesday. I think I will make it from fresh in future, though I may keep some jars on hand when I need it fast. It didn't take too long to make and the flavour is so much better.
I might try for cheaper tomatoes next time. Although it was a 10kg box, there were only 5 or maybe 6 kg max in the box as I discovered when it came to weighing them for the sauce.
The muesli I made last week is going great as the preferred cereal in the morning.


  1. Wow! You've been ever so productive in this horrible heat. Way to go! Only 40C for us in this part of Vic. 43C tomorrow.
    "You're a better man that I am Gunga Din."

  2. Your sauce and jam sound delicious!

    You know I've always thought it would be super comfy to sleep on the trampoline. I love lying on ours.

  3. Oh, what a fantastic way to spend the night- as long as those little bugs were kept away.
    I can almost smell your kitchen Helen. You are more proactive than me. Been meaning for years to make home made jams and sauces...

  4. Oh to have been allowed to sleep on the trampoline whilst younger! What a fantastic time for the kids. I would love to have a daybed on the deck. I would sleep out there in a heartbeat!

  5. Oh that heat sounds awful helen - but yah for sleeping outside! I would love to make preserves too - they always taste the best made at home.