Thursday, July 25, 2013

Traveling Tomatoes!




My tomatoes have traveled this summer.  Just before I went on vacation the week of July 4, my tomatoes began ripening.  I intend to can tomatoes every summer, and I planted about 20 plants.  Unfortunately for my plans, they ripen at various times, and their ripening speed also depends on the weather, which, this summer, has been rainy.  Because the weather has been consistently moist, my tomatoes have not suffered blossom end-rot or cracking.  The dry weather punctuated with occasional rain causes those problems.  I trellised my tomatoes, and most of them were off the ground.
Beautiful tomatoes with no cracks or blossom end-rot!  

Before I left for vacation to Charleston, I picked all the tomatoes that had begun to turn ripe, and I had the people that were watching our animals look out for ripe tomatoes.  I was afraid all the green ones would turn red while I was gone.  I carried the tomatoes I picked to Charleston with me, and we ate some of them and some I cooked every day, adding the ripening ones to the pot.  It's certainly not the best way to preserve tomatoes, but I didn't have enough to can in one batch and I had too many to eat.

I came home, canned tomatoes, and did things normally for a week or two until the painters came.  For some reason, we thought it would be a great idea to have the entire downstairs of our house painted at one time.  When the painters arrived, I was canning tomatoes in the kitchen and finished the job before they got to that area.  I picked all the tomatoes that were ripe or nearly ripe, about two bushels of tomatoes, and went to visit my mother in the Upstate of SC.  I left some of the greenest tomatoes in her spare bedroom to ripen while I went on to visit my aunt.
Canning tomatoes at my aunt's house


Always ready to help with gardening and food preservation, my aunt helped me can tomatoes, and she also helped me freeze some corn from her garden.  Although I try every year to grow corn, I can never manage to grow enough for us to eat, much less to freeze.  Critters eat my corn.
Shucked corn ready to be washed

After we shucked, silked, and washed the corn, we cut it off the cob and cooked it.
Corn cut off the cob, ready to cook


We cooked it until it turned a darker yellow, cooled it, and put it in freezer bags.

This was our view while we worked.

I left the tomatoes at my aunt's house because transporting recently canned tomatoes might break the seal, and went back to my mother's house to can more tomatoes.

Canning tomatoes at my mother's house




My mother's pressure cooker.  I remember standing in front of it as a child, carefully watching the pressure gauge, certain it would explode

My mother helped me finish canning 14 quarts of tomatoes.  I left them there to rest and came home to the disaster that was my house: covered with plastic and dust.  Every table in the house, except the toddler table upstairs, was covered with plastic, and so the upstairs guest room became our dining room, bedroom, and dog bedroom.  My dogs did not like the interruptions. 

The painters are gone, the house looks somewhat normal, and my stove is covered with more pots of tomatoes as I continue canning.  I'll have to traverse the state to pick up my tomatoes, visiting family along the way.  This experience provides a new definition for "local food."





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