Granny Ipsen often said, “you never know when people are going to turn up,” so she made a point of always looking her best, wearing pearl earrings, necklaces, and brooches, and sometimes all three. A fondly remembered mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Dorothy Noelle Ipsen was a maker of many things, including the town’s best sponge cake, and her wildly famous traditional tomato sauce.
On a late summer day “down at Flinders” before she passed on, I joined four generations of Ipsen girls make the family tomato sauce with matriarch Dorothy – Granny – at her home in Augusta. Be duly warned, it’s impossible to return to store-bought sauce once you’ve made this. It’s deadly on sausage rolls, roasted chips, and BBQ’d snags. Thank you Dorothy – Granny – for the inspiring mark you left on so many.
Dorothy adapted a CWA cookbook recipe to her tastes & lifelong cooking experiences.
Granny Ipsen’s Tomato Sauce
Eight pound version
8 lb tomatoes (3.6kg)
1 ¾ lb sugar (800g)
¾ lb onions (350g)
1 ¼ lb apples (570g)
1 ¼ pints vinegar (600ml)
4 oz salt (113g)
1 tblsp whole fresh ginger (or more to taste)
1 tblsp garlic (~small head)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tblsp cloves
1 tblsp pimento
1 tsp white pepper (or whole pepper)
Part One (up to 1 hr)
1. Peel tomatoes: place in bowls or a pot, cover with boiling water. Leave a few minutes and the skins will loosen. Drain water and peel the tomatoes, being mindful of the heat!
2. Cut tomatoes roughly into a pot. Sprinkle in some salt and stir (the salt will help draw out liquid). Macerate for several hours or overnight.
Special tip from Dorothy
Dorothy told me I should always get up early and get the sauce going. That way, I could be all finished by 9am and “get on with my day”. It’s true, the day can get away from you when you’re making sauce. Start first thing, and enjoy the satisfaction of finishing as early as possible.
Part Two (4 – 5 hrs)
Drain excess liquid from tomatoes and add them to pot.
Chop onions and apples if you haven’t already and add.
Put the pot on the stove and turn onto high heat.
Add vinegar, sugar, salt, cayenne, ginger, garlic and the bouquet garni. Stir to combine.
Cook all ingredients together on high heat for approx 2 hrs, or 40 mins on a commercial stove. Stir frequently so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom, especially in the final hour.
When it’s cooked, put through a mouli to remove seeds. Mouli twice for a smooth result.
Heat sauce back to boiling.
Pour warm-hot sauce into warm, sterilised bottles for best preserving results. Fill bottles to 1cm below top, ensure cap area is clean of sauce, screw cap tightly.
Time – Saving Option: not endorsed by Dorothy!
I don’t know if Dorothy would approve of this, but when 5 hours work can potentially be reduced to 2-3 hrs, this time-saving option is attractive. You can elect to blend the sauce once it has been cooked, rather than pass it twice through a mouli.
When I tested this option we used my friend’s powerful blender. Another bonus of blending is that there is no waste: seeds were pulverised, and the resulting sauce is smooth. Too smooth for my sister’s tastes; she prefers the more rustic feel of a traditional sauce. The result may depend on the kind of food processor or blender you have access to. I think there could be something about the way the mouli gently presses the mixture which could possibly better the powerful blending in untold ways, and besides, if the power is off, I can still make sauce if I have my trusty mouli at hand. The mouli is also fun if you have a merry band of friends and kids around to join in, as we did the memorable day we made Ipsen sauce together.