Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomato Extravaganza

By Labor Day, last Monday, the tomato situation was getting critical. It was quite clear that soon there would be tomatoes tucked away onto bookcases (which has happened before) and in the bathroom cabinet (which has not happened so far). The photo above shows everything on hand on Monday afternoon -- mostly Better Boys, lined up from ripest on the left to just-picked, still-slightly-orange on the right.

There are also bowls of Sungolds and the volunteer red cherry tomatoes for snacking and salads, and two demonstration Black Krims at lower right, just to show we are capable of growing heirlooms.

A plethora of Better Boys means it's time to go rummaging in the garage for the mighty Squeezo, the venerable Vittorio Strainer, veteran of many a tomato sauce session of Septembers past. It didn't take long to clean it up from its long hibernation and attach it to the dining room table.

The whole process is so simple. The ripe tomatoes are first rinsed and quartered. (Let the orangey ones sit for another week to ripen up.)

Then all you have to do is fill the hopper with tomato pieces, press them down with the mallet, and turn the handle to push the juicy mass through the screening funnel. Skin and seeds drop out at the end of the funnel while the luscious juice and pulp flows down the trough into a bowl.

The next step is to cook the juice down a bit and package it up in pint size freezer containers as a base for tomato sauce. Take some out in gloomy November or in chilly February and make it into sauce for a vivifying taste of congealed sunlight, a distillate of summertime itself.

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