Tag Archives: #tomatoesinjanuary

From Vine to Bottle to Table


Amazing .. you can still buy these!


Here’s a question … do you know what this is?

I woke this morning thinking about my Grandma Penrod and her patience as she taught me to “put up” tomato juice for the first time using the standing sieve and pestle … just like this.  This was my introduction to the wonderful world of juicing tomatoes for canning.

My dear grandmother and I spent hours in her basement squishing juice and pulp through those tiny holes in the sieve with the wooden pestle, scraping the pulp off into the juice, then emptying the battered skins and seeds into the trash.  I didn’t think we would ever get through that first bushel of tomatoes.  I used this method for about 3 years or so then my dad brought home to my mother a “Vitorio” juicer (which, being young and poor, I borrowed).


Vitorio Juicer (like the one I had)

Wonder of all wonders that baby could “crank” through a bushel of tomato juice in about a third of the time. Cranking was tiring and as the years went by (and I bought my own magic juicer) I had my kids turn the crank and squish the fruit through the feed tube (lots of fun and lots of mess). Seeing dozens of bottles of juice lined up on the counter, lids popping as the bottles cooled … made my heart just sigh with accomplishment.

Then one year my Inventive Dad ‘added a motor with a pulley belt” to mom’s Vitorio and BOOM we were in major juice production mode. (I started borrowing her’s again) because bushels and bushels of tomatoes became juice in mere minutes (more or less) and canning that would have taken a full day or more, became a mild morning’s work …

Then, one day, after my house was childless and I began contemplating the harvest quantity requirements for fall canning I realized that  I probably didn’t need to can much or at all. I stopped canning  … for many many years. Just how many jars of fruit can one person use in a year?

Anyway … I married Sweetie and became addicted to his spaghetti sauce (made from store bought tomatoes).  We decided that “the sauce” would be even better with home grown and bottled tomatoes like his grandmother used and so I enlarged my garden and increased tomato production  from summer slicer amounts to my heck that’s a lot of tomatoes! AND since no juice is added to the sauce, I’ve changed up my bottling technique …  now I just toss them  fresh picked into a large kettle, stew them a bit, stick the filled jars into the cold pack pot and voila tomatoes for sauce, all chunky and juicy, seeds and all.

IMG_1651Come January, when we’ve eaten the last of the made fresh from the garden sauce,  Sweetie starts the mid-winter batch;  the jars are opened and the contents blend with secret ingredients that simmer for hours and hours filling the house with whiffs of summer.  From vine to bottle to table those tomatoes become a mouthful of wonder, topping fettuccini or polenta and crowned with fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Our meal a gift from our grandmothers …







A Tomato in January


Autumn. The last warm days before dragging out the ski gear , lighting the fireplace, and building stews and soups frozen and canned from summer’s bounty.  It is the time I cram as many outdoor projects and activities I can into a day or a week; since I spent most of the summer on fire assignments, golfing, fishing, reading on the patio, and … . This week I was successful in coaxing Sweetie out of the fields and off the mountains directing his attention from his search for Chucker, Pheasants, or Quail toward  building a small greenhouse in an area that was covered in gladiolas and which always looked a bit seedy and weedy.  Last winter’s traveling greenhouse hooked me when I started our summer garden in mid-winter and though it worked very well for seed sprouting it had limited space once the plants became taller than 6 or 8 inches.

I envisioned my little greenhouse as rather whimsical with recycled windows and pallet wood walls and roof; well,  photo 1 (4)photo 2 (5) Sweetie doesn’t do whimsical, he does AWESOME!

This is the greenhouse build through noon on day 4 … it’s about 75% complete … still needs a door, floor, shelves and power … then it’s “let’s have a tomato in January” time.

photo 5We worked hard, Sweetie more than me (I was the go-fer, ladder holder, tool finder and gatherer, and general cleaner upper). We’re taking a break for the weekend.

Saturday the sun will clear off the wet sky;  Sweetie will take Mala (our very vocal Pudlepointer) on a long walk pheasant hunting while I take a road-trip to Utah for my baby’s 33rd Bday.

I’m psyched … just him and me and a golf course.

There is an old adage which says a daughter is a daughter all of her life but a son is a son until he takes a wife.  As the mother of sons who have grown into men whose direction faces away from their mother’s home to their own, this is sooooo true.  I love my daughters-in-law — they are beautiful, intelligent, talented wives and mothers … but they are their mother’s daughters, as my daughters are mine. But even knowing all that…I miss my sons.  As a single mom I taught them to throw a football and baseball, ski, camp, ride motorcycles, cook and clean … all that mum stuff.  So, it is with great anticipation that I will be spending Saturday afternoon with my youngest son, and then dinner with him and his lovely family.

Next week it’s back to absorbing every last bit of Autumn’s sunshine I can;  we’ll finish the greenhouse, pack away the fishing and camping gear, put the bikes and golf clubs into the back corner and pull the skis and boots out of the back closet and into the shop for a tune up … snow’s coming … and I am anticipating fresh tomatoes in January! Thanks to my Sweetie!!