2010 will be our second tomato vintage, and we’re happy to report that this year’s canning experience was a lot more fun than our first one. Last year our tomatoes were suddenly ripe mid-week, and without knowing what we were getting into, we started canning at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday evening. We got through 36 pints.
It was a particularly tomatoey summer this year, with dozens of new varieties appearing at the markets, begging to be tasted. We spent a weekend in Prince Edward County with friends in August, and visited an organic farm that grows and sells 240 varieties of heirlooms. The farm’s produce is laid out for sale in a little roadside shack that uses the honour system – you take what you like and leave your money in a little box.
It’s no small joy to have jars of home-preserved tomatoes cellared away for the cold season, to release their light on dark days and serve up something robust and virtuous, like the cioppino or skillet eggs we made over and over last winter. Until the sad day in March when we went to get a jar of tomatoes, and they were just all gone.
So we did 72 pints this year. We also planned much better, and had perfect Romas ready to go for the long weekend. The long day we spent in the kitchen felt like a road trip – listening to old albums, carefully planning caffeine breaks, and telling long stories. A delicious end to summer, and a stash that will carry us through to next year’s crop.