So here we are, in the full fertile bounty of summer, the time that all our work-the tilling, the planting, the fertilizing, etc- has lead up to: the harvest. And what a harvest it has been this year! As if to make up for last summer’s blighted devAstation, now we are overwhelmed by a corpulent overabundance of juicy tomatoes. My basket overflows with tomatoes in every color of the rainbow besides blue and an assortment of bulbous shapes (green zebras, yellow pears, fat pink caspers, long purple plums, engorged orange amanas and globular red brandywines and beefsteaks). These are joined by an array of other veggies, some ordinary (cukes, zukes and beans of every type) and some a bit odd (spagetti and pattypan squash).
Not that this is just about bragging. And I’m definitely complaining, but now I have that other gardening dilemma-too many veggies! There is only so much my family will eat, especially with 3 male members who clearly lean toward the carnivore. And I’ve tried to give away as much as I can but unfortunately my next door neighbors runs a farm stand (and she complained that she had so many tomatoes this year she had to sell them wholesale-egads!), my friends all belong to farm co-ops and my family members have bountiful gardens of their own. In fact my mother gives away he excess produce to some organization that helps poor immigrant Jews (yes there are such people, we don’t all run banks). I’ve tried to give mine to a organization thAt serves new immigrants (mostly Hispanic) locally, but apparently my organic greens and oddly-colored heirloomed fruits were not that popular (to be fair, most of these hard-working folks don’t have the time or facilities to cook from scratch).
So is there a way to preserve this summer bounty for when the cold winds blow and ourcubboards are full of cardboard hothouse tomatoes and soggy seedy Cuban cukes? Personally, I find that the freshness of homegrown veggies is lost by canning while only a few fruits can be frozen well. If I have the time I might make a thick tomato sauce but once boys drown their pasta in it there is very little to freeze.
And so I’ve learned not to bother. Summer, veggies and all, is for savoring. So for now I will enjoy the ephemeral freshness as much as I can, eat as many tomatoes as possible, swim every day (despite what it does to my hair), sit by the flowers and just soak it in…because winter is encroaching fast and it will all be gone soon enough.