Tomato sauce season in Harvey

Briana FioreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Damiano and Mimma Gervasi prepare to make homemade Italian pasta sauce.
Camera IconDamiano and Mimma Gervasi prepare to make homemade Italian pasta sauce. Credit: Briana Fiore/Harvey-Waroona Reporter/Briana Fiore

With tomato vines at their peak, it’s sauce season in the South West and many residents are embracing their Italian heritage by making homemade tomato sauce.

Harvey residents Damiano and Mimma Gervasi have been making sauce for more than half a century and are preparing to make 150 bottles this year.

Mr Gervasi said, traditionally, making homemade sauce back in Italy was a necessity, however he was proud to be able to continue the tradition with his family here in Australia.

He was born in Riace, a small village in Calabria, and came to Australia aged 17.

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“We had to move because there was no future and no jobs in Italy, we were struggling to make a living and that is why a lot of migration occurred after the war,” he said.

He said he loved living in Harvey and believed it was one of the best towns in the South West.

Mr Gervasi said growing tomatoes was hard work but he enjoyed spending time in his garden. “If you really love something, you find the time to do it,” he said.

“You have to love growing tomatoes because they take up a lot of time. They need a good fertiliser, sticks and wire as they grow and you also have to be wary of bugs attacking them.”

Mr Gervasi said tomatoes must be left for one week after being picked to continue to ripen.

“They then have to be washed, cut in half with the seeds removed and put through a machine,” he said.

Although early sauce-makers in Italy did not always have that privilege, Mr Gervasi recalled making the sauce by hand prior to having machines.

Basil is added to the bottles of sauce and they are boiled and then sealed.

Mr and Mrs Gervasi said they loved sauce day and how it brought their family together.

Mr Gervasi joked that he would not have to make sauce next year because of all the sauce they made this year.

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