The Ephemeral Extravagance of a Fresh Tomato

We don’t eat fresh tomatoes for most of the year. From October to June, we get our tomato kicks from salsa, marinara, and tomato soup. We indulge in too much ketchup and we stare longingly at those plastic-enshrined, too-perfect tomatoes in the grocery store. But we resist because a) we know summer tomatoes grown here in New England taste so much better and because b) we know those shrink-wrapped, out-of-region tomatoes are bad for our wonderful planet.

When the first unwrapped tomatoes come into the Coop in early June (usually from Long Wind Farm in Vermont), we indulge in one or two rounds of delicious and long-awaited Caprese sandwiches, but we try to hold out our true feast until tomato season comes to New Hampshire and specifically to our garden.

Tomatoes come in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors – experiment at the farmer’s market or in your own garden.

And now the wait is over! We just harvested our first tomatoes this week and oh, they are wonderful! Of course none of them made it back to the house – my three kids gobbled them up before I even had a chance to take a picture – but I know the tomato glut is coming and I can’t wait!

Wait, you ask, does that mean you never eat any fresh fruits or vegetables in the winter? The answer is no. We do eat apples, carrots, squash, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables that store and ship well and that don’t come in plastic. We eat more dried fruit, canned and frozen vegetables (many we have put up ourselves), and we wait it out.

I roast and freeze a ton of our tomatoes mixed with our garlic, onions, and basil each year and we use it for soup and sauces all winter.

It used to be that everyone had to eat seasonally. Before people could buy a tomato in a plastic clamshell in January, that first fresh tomato was a true luxurious treat. Before refrigerated boxcars, 18-wheelers, barges, and even planes carried food all over the world no matter what the season, people had to wait for a delight like a fresh peach or tomato and because of that, harvest seasons were always a cause for joy and celebration. There were whole festivals around each crop.

So, we make like our great-grandparents and we wait and we wait and then, oh glorious season – we feast!

This is a harvest photo from last year during the glory days of tomato season.

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