I dreamt of tomatoes last night, tomatoes and the Pre-Raphaelites. Tomatoes fill my dreams and my waking moments, and rightly so. Tomatoes are bursting out of our gardens and I’m determined to make the most of every single one of them.
Summer has returned here these last few days, the temperatures are suddenly soaring again. After the severe rain storms earlier in the week it’s making things feel a little topsy turvy, but I’m so grateful for the ripening sun that I’m willing to push on through!
Yesterday the heat really made itself known, I was working out in the fields with Stephen for a couple of hours stringing the new cow fence, but by midday I’d had all I could take. Stephen carried on like a hero and finished the fence but the heat even beat him in the end. After a day of hot working we were drained by dusk, but that was the time when my work needed to start up again.
As the evening finally cooled I did the hot work of roasting and canning tomato sauce, working until about 11 to make the most of some of our huge basket of tomatoes. This morning I was back at it before breakfast, aiming to process as many as I could before the heat started to build again.
The huge washing basket worth of tomatoes we brought in yesterday (we estimated about 20 kilos), with sweat dripping down our backs even as the sun began to dip, is now empty. The ‘perfect’ tomatoes have been blanched and are now sitting in ice water ready to be skinned, chopped and canned, work that will have to wait until after sunset this evening. Anything that is marked or showing signs of blight (that rain did it’s work on some of my plants) are chopped up and roasted with salt, oil, garlic and fresh basil from the garden. Then I run it through my super food mill (the only thing standing between me and a dead arm) and can it, ready for the pantry.
As I pass my tomatoes through the mill, or peel and core my canning tomatoes, I put aside the ‘waste’ and pop it straight into the pig bucket. What seems like a waste product is, I remind my self several times a day, turning happily into bacon in the field. The plants will be composted, returning eventually to the earth and the droppings from the aforementioned pigs will go back onto the soil to refresh it for next year’s planting. It’s the cycle of life here on the farm, and it’s one I love repeating.