It is tomato season. It has been for a while, but now they are beginning to come out of our ears. At the beginning of the summer we so look forward to them ripening, monitoring their transformation from delicate yellow flower, to tiny green globe to half red, half green and finally to full juicy, red ripeness.
How we delight in tucking in to a delicious Caprese salad with fresh cheese and basil, but weeks down the line, we start flagging, and absurdly wishing they would go away.
For the locals it is now tomato bottling time.
Families who haven’t enough of their own will order crates of them from the local suppliers. This is a ritual, serious business, and at daybreak you can hear the clinking of glass as the neighbours get down to washing, squashing (although there is a fancy machine that does that now), bottling and boiling. It is an early morning job before it gets too hot, as large cauldrons of water over powerful gas burners or wood stoked fires are brought to the boil in order to sterilise the jars and bottles and then boil them again once filled.
It can take several early mornings to complete the task. It is a combined effort, a well-oiled family production line, each with their own task. The shelves in the storerooms and pantries quickly fill up with rows and rows of jars ,all ready for the winter sauces. And another job is done.