Didactic Garden & Green Tomato Chutney

img_0635It’s been too long since my last blog post… Guilty!
I started my second year at UNISG and, like the beginning of last year, it’s been overwhelming: there’s been the SlowCheese fair which happens every two years here in Bra lasting 4 days with crazy amount of tourists and cheese producers from all over the world; I went to Tuscany for a week on a studytrip which was amazing (it was all based on geothermal and renewable energy); and as always the small town of Bra keeps us surprisingly busy 24/7.

This semester I have some really interesting classes that I love so far: Botanics, AgroEcology, History of wine, History of Diets and Geography of Products.  Lots of new students have arrived either undergraduates or new Masters. Lots of interesting cultures going on and I’m excited to meet many of them.
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My university has a big garden, called Didactic Garden, which grows most of the food they use in our cafeteria and many plots are used by the students for the Horticulture classes. Two days ago, the manager of the garden created an event on Facebook, called Autumn harvest, with the idea to come help them pick all the remaining veggies from the summer and clean up the garden in preparation of the winter. Since there were tons of unripe tomatoes, the idea was to make chutney with them.
The day started at 9 am, about 10 students showed up (yes, not that many), we started picking all the remaining veggies, which were bell peppers, eggplants, some ripe tomatoes, friggitelli (green Italian peppers), leafy greens such as swiss chard. Someone immediately took the harvest to our cafeteria which then prepared Gazpacho for us to enjoy during lunch. We then picked all the green tomatoes, and then cleaned up the plots, throwing all the plant remains on our compost pile, and spreading green manure on the plots in order to renew the nitrogen component of the soil and to have the plot ready to plant in for the upcoming spring.

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The work was strenuous but not too tiring. We were glad to sit down around noon to enjoy our lunch and the gazpacho (they simply blended the veggies with olive oil, vinegar and salt, and we decorated the bowls with nasturtiums). After class, about 5 of us went directly to the Societa Gastronomica, a big student house just outside of Bra, that has a big professional kitchen in it that students can use to organize events such as brunches, dinners, parties or like in our case, transform food into food products.
We had about 50 kilos of green tomatoes and we managed to use up only half of them! We made two big batches of chutney and we managed to make about 120 jars. It took us about 8 hours to do so! (we finished at 1 am)
The jars of chutney will be either given away or sold at a very low price in the cafeteria to help with the cost of production.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to see how something that would have been thrown away can be made into something appetizing so easily.  We were all very happy with the end result.
With the rest of the tomatoes we will make more chutney again in the next few days.

We followed this recipe found on the web, but more or less we sautéed onions with olive oil, toasted a mix of spices, added them to the onions together with the tomatoes (halved), chopped apples, garlic, chilies, sugar and vinegar.

We will create a small label for the jars and hopefully they will be appreciated.

Let’s all support the #nofoodwaste movement and be more mindful of how much we buy and how much we throw away.
Also, there’s an interesting challenge coming up promoted by Slow Food about eating local, here’s the link: https://www.slowfood.com/eat-local/

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