Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I really wanted was Cherokee “Purple” sauce

Cherokee purple for summer 2010

Surely I'm not the first. I love the color of Cherokee Purples sooooooooo much (spreads arms wide apart) that I was compelled to capture that deep smoky red within a delicious sauce. Well, I'm sorry to report that the purple in the Cherokee is not inclined to transfer its beautiful self when chopped, cooked, and puréed into velvety smoothness. This is a great sauce tomato as their huge, juicy selves makes less work of chopping smaller types. I cook them skins and all, and puree the heck out of the batch after cooling. This is gonna be great stuff to use during winter.

Cherokee purple sauce

I've never put much into the mystery of numbers and all that bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, but it amused me to note that last week Friday when I did nothing but deal tomatoes all day, the numbers were surprisingly consistent. I used 5 pounds of cherokee purples for the sauce, another 5 pounds of carbons for oven-dried tomatoes, and of which one of the carbons weighed in at 555 grams on the scale. Coincidence? Hmmmm...and then for dinner, I stuffed 5 Rouge d'Irak heirlooms with rice and pork sausage. They were so good that I didn't even think about taking photos. Tonight we eat homemade pizza topped with more tomatoes...again.

The number 5

A lone peanut to emphasize the girth of that thing.

Oven-drying the Carbons
Five pounds of drying carbons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rose de Berne tomatoes

Rose de Berne

If Snow White's wicked stepmother-queen had run out of apples, she might have tempted her fair skin stepdaughter with these tomatoes instead. Rose de Bernes, reported to be a swiss heirloom, looks irresistible in its rosy pinkish-red color, is just the right size that fits daintily in your palm, and has an equally dainty and delicious tomato flavor. Sweet, a hint of spicy and balanced acidity. The shape is a roundish, squat look. Perfect skin, not much cracking (except for when we had that unexpected downpour after a dry spell), great ratio of flesh to seed, and some had yellow-green shoulders. The color in my image does not accurately reflect that awesome pinkish-red hue, and when I go out to check their ripening condition, how they look on the vine seems to differ a bit when I take them inside.

Rose de Berne halved

I didn't get as much yield as I thought there would be, but the plants were in the section where we had put much less horse manure. I will most likely plant these next year because I like to have a mix of sizes and this one fits right into the small category.

Average daytime temperature: 23°C / 73°F

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happiness is....the first ripe tomato

St. Pierre tomato, originally uploaded by me.

When the day arrives for the first tomato to ripen on the vine, I experience a mix of bittersweet emotions. Bitter because I know that summer will soon be over, sweet because who can resist homegrown tomatoes? As organic gardeners we take special care to do everything that is best for both plant and environment, but the golden fruit - pomodoro/pomo d'oro - it always receive more attention than anything else.

Quando arriva il giorno in cui il primo pomodoro matura sulla pianta, sento un misto di emozioni agrodolci. Amaro perche' l'estate sta per finire, dolce perche': chi puo' resistere ai pomodori coltivati nell'orto? Come giardinieri biologici prestiamo molta attenzione a fare il meglio sia per le piante sia per l'ambiente, ma il Pomo d'Oro... riceve sempre piu' attenzione di qualunque altra cosa.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Shopping at the fruttivendolo

Big haul from the fruttivendolo

One of the sublime and romanticized experiences that you read about in italian travel is the fresh produce markets held outdoors in large public squares. The colors, textures, sights, sounds and constant chatter makes for a totally immersive scene that is truly impressive for the first-time visitor. We don't usually go to these because it's much easier to stop into a fruit and vegetable shop - fruttivendolo - and walk away with a full crate of great things. Locally-grown community markets are not popular events because for the most part, home growers cultivate exclusively for their personal consumption. Imagine if we could create gardens to sustain the immediate area - that would be one humble victory for locavores and zero food miles/chilometers.

Plum picking time: love those mirabelles

Mirabelle harvest on the 1st of August
I suppose I could say that we plumb struck gold this year with our only plum tree. This is the first big harvest since we planted it 3 years ago, and so far is the only fruit tree that has done really well in our garden. Mirabelles are a major crop in the Lorraine region of France, so it was very fortunate to be able to source a nursery here. The tree itself has been very resistant to pests (unlike our cherry tree) and since we refrain from using pesticides, it's all organic. The fruit is popular in jams, desserts and liqueurs, but we like them fresh as a snack or chopped into a simple fruit salad.
Plum picking time
Average daytime temperature: 24°C / 75°F