Harvest time for Tomatoes is generally from the third week in July until the frost takes them in the fall. So… the minute the tomatoes are ready to pick I’m right there with my salt shaker.
Tomatoes piled high in bushel baskets would sit on our back porch waiting for my mom to put up them into bottles. The minute mom’s back was turned, the big dark red juicy one on the top vanished into my pocket. With salt shaker in hand, I would duck behind the fence and take my first bite of the season. Oh my… what a glorious moment… juice running down my hand and all. To this day… my first tomato of the year is eaten warm…and whole. I manage to control the juice.
In the old days, we could pick a bushel at Camilla Holdaway’s tomato patch for $.50. After my marriage, a bushel of tomatoes was still a great deal at $1.50. Now, your lucky to get a bushel for under $15.00. Not hardly worth bottling at that price.
Oh my gosh… did I ever bottle tomatoes. Whole Tomatoes,Stewed Tomatoes, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup, Salsa, Snappy Tom, Tomato Juice, Chili Sauce, Green Tomato Relish. At least 8 to 10 bushels were bottled every year…and at that time, only two little boys were there to help us eat it all. Some how it all vanished by spring.
We even tried to plan our 4th child around the tomatoes season. We wanted a new baby… but not in September when the tomatoes were on! But… you guessed it… Katie was born on Sept 19th. God… in his great wisdom… knew I wouldn’t be canning tomatoes forever.
I still love a fresh picked tomato with salt. This year, when my single tomato plant in my container garden produced tomatoes, the watch was on for the red color to appear. I counted the days until one tomato was just the perfect red…than snap. No cooling off in the fridge and sliced nicely on a plate… no, no. My salt shaker and I appeared at the garden’s edge. A tomato just tastes different when it’s a bit warm and you eat it right from the vine. It’s just the best.
When September rolls around, and the sky is that wonderful azure blue, and there is a bit of fall in the air, the old hankering to bottle tomatoes comes upon me. My Chili Sauce is to die for and the Tomato Juice just can’t be beat. Hmmmm….just maybe….
P.S. Now that the tomato harvest is on… it’s time for Spicy Tomato and Bean Fiesta. Recipe coming soon!