What a great summer for growing things it has been around here on the east end of Long Island! I don’t know about where you live, but it’s been hot, humid, and arguably one of the best years for produce in recent memory. Everything started coming in a couple of weeks early. We were eating local corn in mid-July. The berries have been unbelievably sweet. And then, of course, it was all about the tomatoes. End of summer finally brings some relief from the heat, and it also brings the making and putting up of fresh tomato sauce. Before I get into this year’s tomato sauce production, I thought I’d first give a visual of where our tomatoes come from. I go to a farm over on the north fork in Calverton called Hodun’s. Mario, my father-in-law, discovered it about ten years ago. He was the first one to introduce me to “pick’em up tomatoes”. Mario is incredible picky (no pun intended) about picking tomatoes. He inspects each one before he picks it from the vine. He still regards me as a novice in the tomato fields.
There’s nothing better than an afternoon out in the sunshine, bent over picking six or seven bushels of plum tomatoes. The air and the light are wonderful. It takes about 20-3o minutes to carefully pick a bushel: each bushel yields about twelve quarts of tomato sauce. Usually Rosaria heads off down one row of tomato plants and I go down another. And suddenly, with the maturity level of a fifteen year old she always starts a rotten tomato fight, lobbing gluey tomatoes at me. And then she gets angry when I peg her with one.
More on making sauce in the next post.