Ahhhh… the August tomato. This time of year brings us the most wonderful fruit of the season, the slightly sweet, slightly acidic, juicy tomato that tastes equally incredible with an ear of corn or on a tomato/mayo sandwich. All summer mister gardener has nurtured and cared for his tomatoes and it was time for The Great Harvest.
With tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, mister gardener turned to me over breakfast on Friday and announced, “I’m going to can today.” Each year I am excited to hear this announcement. It’s a process that takes two days from start to finish with aromas of onions, celery, and tomatoes permeating the house. It lifts your spirits and adds a bit of buoyancy to your step, much like the joy at Thanksgiving with bouquets of turkey and stuffing wafting throughout the home.
It is a labor of love for mister gardener but it is labor. He must blanch and peel the tomatoes, clean, core and cut dozens and dozens up along with copious amounts of celery and onion and garlic and whatever else he uses in his family recipe. Chop, chop, chop goes on for hours each day. It is a labor-intensive task that he has shared in with his family since childhood. At the end of the process, he is able to put up about 12 quarts and 10 pints of stewed tomatoes that will go through the winter with us and last until the first ripe garden tomato of 2010.
Left on the vine are green tomatoes. I’m going to push for a few fried green tomatoes that mister gardener can barely tolerate but I adore. With what ripens in September, I will make half pints of tomato preserves. My mouth is watering. It’s no wonder the tomato is the most popular and best loved garden vegetable in the USA.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester