Ode to Tomato: Summer CSA ’11 – Week 14

 In CSA Newsletter

Beautiful Heirlooms

Back in July, I shared Marge Piercy’s Attack of the Squash People with you.  The poem is about the intense, often overwhelming production of squash plants.  No doubt many of you experienced the stress of dealing with all the zucchini you received some weeks.

Now compare Piercy’s poem with the following excerpt from Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Tomato:  €œ€¦the tomato,/ star of earth, recurrent/ and fertile/star,/ displays/ its convolutions,/ its canals,/ its remarkable amplitude/ and abundance,/ no pit,/ no husk,/ no leaves or thorns,/ the tomato offers/ its gift/ of fiery color/ and cool completeness.€

Even without reading the whole poem, heck, just by reading the poem’s title, you can tell that Neruda is putting the tomato on an amazingly high pedestal. There is no attack of the tomato. Instead, there is an ode.

As a farmer, I think both deserve an Ode. But as an eater, I definitely understand why the tomato receives the Ode and the squash gets the joking Attack. Tomatoes can be preserved. And in terms of local eating, that means a lot.

So how you can preserve tomatoes? Mike and I have preserved our tomatoes in a lot of different ways over the years. Each has its pros and cons.

  • You can water-bath can them as crushed tomatoes. It takes some time, but it keeps precious freezer space available.
  • You can freeze them whole. All you have to do is core the tomato and use a knife to cut an X on the skin. Shove them in a bag and presto. When you cook them later you take the skins off. This takes lots of freezer space, but is super fast.
  • You can make tomato sauce. Then either can it or freeze it in ziploc bags.  When we are freezing the sauce, we add all kinds of other ingredients like sweet Carmen peppers, sweet onions, basil, and garlic (I call this Cabin Sauce). But because you have to make sure canned goods have high enough acidity to keep bacteria levels down, when we can the sauce, we can only pure tomato sauce.
  • You can make dried tomatoes with a simple home food drier. Aka sun dried tomatoes.
  • You can make salsa and either can or freeze it.

There are so many different ways to make sure a tomato can be enjoyed when there is snow on the ground. Simple tips Mike and I go by are: freeze if you have the space & don’t bother with skinning and de-seeding. Simply blending your sauce or salsa with a blender still makes a mighty fine sauce and is a lot less work. For a great document regarding safe tomato preservation techniques, check out this Georgia’s University Cooperative Extension tomato canning document. Click here.

Speaking of salsa, if you haven’t made a fresh one yet, you must! Nothing beats a fresh salsa made with onions, cilantro, hot pepper, and heirloom tomatoes.

This week, remember that this is not an attack of tomatoes, but rather a time to celebrate their abundance and unique qualities of preservability. (How’s that for a new word?)

Have a great week & enjoy your veggies! Sincerely, Mike, Cassie, & Zea

In the Box:

  • Basil – EOs
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Edamame
  • Green Beans
  • Garlic
  • Onion, Yellow
  • Pepper, Joe Parker (mildly hot! Slender, yellow)
  • Pepper, Red Bell
  • Pepper, Sweet Red Carmen
  • Scallions
  • Potatoes, White
  • Tomatoes -Heirlooms
  • Tomatoes- Slicers

REGs = Regular members only

EOs = Everyother members only

This Week’s Recipes:


Week 14: Wednesday, September 7th. – Everyother Group B