We are well stocked. At least when it comes to tomatoes. At least for the moment. Over 100 pounds of ripe San Marzanos and dry-farmed Early Girls have passed into my kitchen and been forwarded into jars in various forms. I dried them, as above. I popped them into jars, blanched and peeled, but still whole -
I realized that approximately all of the time I end of chopped whole peeled tomatoes to use them in sauce, so I canned some of them already chopped -
Of course, if I am chopped them to turn them into a sauce, a person may as well can sauce too -
Then I figured I may as well round things out and put up some perfectly smooth skin-free and seedless purée -
What I really did with the vast majority of all those tomatoes, though, was to put in a supply of over a dozen half-pints of homemade tomato paste or, as we lovingly call it in my house, tomato conserva -
My dashing husband reckons that while he’d love to go through a full pint every week, he can probably limit himself to a half-pint each month, stingily spreading it, as Brits spread marmite, thin and scraggly on his toasted tranche of baguette before topped it with a fried egg for breakfast. Dabbing a bit here or there in pasta dishes when it’s his turn to cook. Doing this, please understand, when what he’d like to do is eat it by the spoonful while he researches graffiti artists or streams soccer games. He will sacrifice because he has seen what it takes to produce this brick red gold, because he is grateful anyone does such a thing for him, and because he can’t bare to think of that window of time that will inevitably come between when the last jar has been scraped clean and the first jar filled with a new harvest, when once again the house will smell of bubbling tomatoes and the seeds and pulp I pull from those tomatoes destined to become conserva -
get strained and we drink the most tomato-flavored and refreshing concoction I know -
It is a flavor that cannot be canned or jarred or kept with any integrity. I tried freezing it and something fell flat, if only my imagination. This tomato juice must be consumed immediately at best, within hours at the outside to capture all its tomato-ness. It is a reminder that you can only stock so much, only prepare and plan for things you can actually imagine. Some things must be taken in when they come along, no matter how much you’d rather have have had time to prepare or wished they’d come to you earlier. Cupboards may well be for stocking, but fresh tomato juice, like life itself, is for drinking up right now.