Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Keeping the harvest - more living and learning

If you've looked at Lena's blog recently, you've seen the gorgeous tomatoes that grow on here Foxbriar Farm. Lena was enjoying them, but she wanted to see if she could save some for us. She said there was something wrong with the tomato plants, they were wilting.

In Colorado we would harvest all the green tomatoes off the plants when we had the first frost warning. We would wrap them in newspaper and store them in a colander in the pantry. They would slowly ripen over the next few months and that's how we had home grown tomatoes.
She asked if I thought the newspaper would work in Arkansas. "Try it," I replied, and promptly forgot about it.

Arriving back in Fox, we began saying our hello's to the neighbors and I asked several about the tomato plants. They are turning brown and not producing... kind of shriveling up. Do they need food? Is it the heat?

Most everyone looked at me strangely. "It's the end of tomato season," they explained. "The plants are done."

Tomato season? How weird to live somewhere that tomatoes complete a whole life cycle. They grow, produce and die, all before being felled prematurely by frost. Wow!

After Lena left for her visit to Colorado, I started cleaning the workshop so that we could unload all our stock and get back to work. There were some interesting things growing inside... As I cleaned the kitchen area, I pulled the big colander out to make room for some bowls. There was something black, slimy and foul smelling in wrapped up in paper in the big yellow bowl. "What the..."

Oh, the tomatoes.

Obviously, the newspaper trick does not work in Arkansas. I committed genocide when I burned the contents of the colander.

So, I am trying to learn new ways of food storage, without electricity (my freezer is full of fleece, it keeps the bugs off). We used to dry a lot of food, I am going to try drying some tomatoes, basil and jalapenos, but I'm not too hopeful. It is so humid here.

I guess I have to go ask the neighbors another silly question. How do you store the harvest here?

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