Karla Harney Thompson
Can't Wait till Tomato Time!
Updated: Feb 6, 2020
A dozen red rosy jars of tomatoes pulled from a hot, steamy, canning pot. “Aren’t they beautiful”, a rhetorical question, to which my mother expected no answer from my dad, sister, or myself! I was glad there was no expectation of a response since, I must admit, as a child…I didn’t get it! They were tomatoes for heaven’s sake!
It was a challenge to see beauty in a bunch of jars filled with a fruit I wasn’t even keen on eating. I didn’t see past the big red garden fruit to think of all the pots of chili, vegetable soup, or spaghetti sauce in our future. Back then, I just didn’t understand mother’s appreciation!
Hours of picking, peeling, and preparation go into the process of creating these rosy-red works of art. I remember mother counting the iconic “pops”, as she listened for each jar to reveal a successfully sealed lid. Canning is not an easy feat! Nor, is it one that doesn’t require a great deal of preparation and clean-up effort when the process is complete. Food preservation is not instant gratification, but instead a long hot day and few tears if a jar or two fail to seal properly!
No longer a child, I now, seize the canning ritual, sweat and tears included! Rosy red tomatoes, vivid green beans, golden peaches, and a plethora of jam and jelly concoctions grace my kitchen. I have ample pantry space to store my prized accomplishments, however I gain much satisfaction by aligning my produce-filled jars like rows of tin solders on my kitchen counter for a few days.
Like mother, I think they are simply beautiful! She is no longer living, however, cooking, gardening, and preserving allow me to embrace her memory with appreciation and a grateful heart.
I always keep a few jars out on my counter ready to be whisked into soups or sauces, presented as a gift, or just to remind me of my mother. A throw back to my childhood and a reminder to teach this satisfying process to the next generation.
The vibrant taste of these precious gems in the winter is a welcome exchange for the time consuming chore of canning a summer harvest. So now I ask you… Are they not beautiful? I absolutely think they are!