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La Sagra del Pomodoro

What’s more Southern Italian than everyone pitching in to make the annual tomato sauce?

Where: At the Castle, an hour South of Lecce.

When: The last week of August. View Calendar or Book Classes

Taught in: English

Where you sleep: At the Castle. 95 € single /110 € double a night.

How much? 1995 € Euro.

Best way to arrive, depart, maximise your time with us: Everything is spelled out in our Student Services. You’ll be given access about booking.

Book now. Or write us for information.

There are two ways to render the sauce biologically sterile, and thus, preserved. One involves wrapping the bottling bottles in woollen blankets, so that they take so long to cool down that any potential microbes die. Or you can use a water bath and bring the bottles back to the boil again. 15 years later we still have the marks on the school’s wall from our last attempt with the blankets.

It’s hard for many of us to remember that the tomato actually started it’s life in Perù and that it didn’t cross the Atlantic until after the Columbian Exchange. A hundred years after that it started to appear ornamentally in botanical diaries and two hundreds years after that made its way into the diet, especially in the south, where they reach their full potential under the Mediterranean sun. The best tomatoes are still Southern, thriving in the rich volcanic soils and red, red earth for which the south is justifiable famous.

Our Annual Tomato Festival

For years this course had a waiting list—the week we make the annual tomato sauce together in the courtyard of the baron’s castle. It’s the week we gorge on the world’s best tomatoes, raw, swimming in our extra virgin. We roast them, eat them over charred bread, still warm from the grill. We dry them in the sun.

As with all our courses, we still dedicate ourselves to learning, cooking, eating and drinking but this week we orient ourselves around the apex of the tomato season, with some of the 20 varieties you’ll taste never travelling more than 100 meters.

Tomato Sauce Week Course

What you’ll learn.

  • We make the annual tomato sauce, from fruit to bottle, the entire process in one day. See film below. This could easily be the funnest day of the year and we usually make about 500 litres. Your friends back home will writhe with naked envy when you post the pictures.
  • We make il vincotto, primitivo grape must, reduced until it becomes a deep rich condiment, ‘poor man’s honey’, (reduced until the inherent sugar actually becomes its own preservative). We add dried figs, which the pectin thickens even further. We boil it for 72 hours. We bottle that too.
  • We sun dry a year’s worth of tomatoes on the stone roof of the castle.

The baron’s pool is open and we finish up in it after many if not most meals.

Annual Tomato Course Italy
You’ll make fresh pasta from scratch every day, grill whole sea bass, roast off peaches and learn more about wine that you ever thought possible in one week. The baron’s impressive pool is also open and we’ll finish most nights, bobbing with our last glasses of wine for the day.
You’ll visit Otranto, see Europe’s largest mosaic and swim in the Adriatic. 
And while it’s a full week of cooking, eating, learning and making new Italian friends, it’s likely that it will be the tomatoes that will still your heart.