What do you do when 200kg of rescued tomatoes are accidentally frozen en route to your food charity? You call in the food cavalry of course, to transform the frozen mishap into more than 65 litres of delicious, home-style tomato sauce.
The food cavalry in this instance are Cookery students at Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Queenstown campus, under the tutelage of Nick Westerman, Cookery Tutor, who orchestrated the tomato rescue for Kiwi Harvest Queenstown on Monday November 30th, and guided the students in their preparation, cooking and packaging of the tomato sauce.
Kiwi Harvest Queenstown, Branch Coordinator Kayleigh Cord, describes the national food rescue charity’s function as a ‘middleman’, rescuing surplus unwanted food from supermarkets, to redistribute it to organisations operating food banks, who then distribute the food in food parcels to the community.
Ms Cord said the pallet of tomatoes mistakenly got frozen in transit recently, on the way down to Kiwi Harvest in Queenstown.
“Unfortunately most of our recipient charities would be unable to take the tomatoes now as they won’t be good when thawed”
She said they needed to think of a way they could still get the nutritious tomatoes out to people who need help with food support. A colleague from another branch mentioned they once had a similar problem, and in their situation, a local catering school offered to blitz them down into a sauce and gave them back in ziplock bags, which could then be given out in food parcels.
Ms Cord felt it was worthwhile getting in touch with SIT to see if they could help resolve the frozen accident, to avoid the rescued tomatoes becoming food waste.
“I contacted SIT to see if they could help and they were super kind, they offered to provide the other ingredients: onions, garlic and herbs etc., to complete the sauce, it’s a win-win for sure”.
“We’ll now be able to distribute the tomato sauce easily to our charities who will send it out in their food parcels as a completely usable, versatile sauce” she said.
Mr Westerman and his cookery student’s Monday morning was considerably more tomato- flavoured than usual, he laughed and said they were knee-deep in tomatoes!
He said the students had responded really well to the challenge. They got together as a team and all chipped in, working out how they would deal with turning the produce back into an edible product. The students created a generic, tomato, basil and garlic sauce which can be used for pizza or pasta.
“They used a team approach, exactly the same as it would be done in industry” he said.
“Kayleigh reached out to us and we were only too happy to get involved and give back to the Queenstown community, it’s what we’re here for, to be a part of our community” said Mr Westerman.