Slice of Life Story Challenge -March 17 -A Time for Harvesting Tomatoes

It’s St Patrick’s Day and in an ironic twist I found myself participating in a traditional Italian family tradition.  Today my friend Anna and her family conducted their annual tomato bottling day and Vicki and I were privileged to be invited to take part. The day started early, for this is important work.

This gathering of the family continues to honour Anna’s mother, Maria who taught her children the enduring practices of preserving tomatoes in preparation for use in honoured Italian recipes. Recipes that continue to permeate the daily lives of this proud family. Impressively, the younger generation of grandchildren featured strongly in the day's proceedings. The future viability of this family tradition seems assured. it runs deep. Maria would be well pleased.

As the day unfolded, I found myself recalling how my parents also engaged in this wonderful act of preserving the summer harvest. Fruits and vegetables preserved in large glass jars –sealed tight and boiled, in readiness for use at some future date. Tomatoes, green tomato pickles, jams, and chutneys were staples of those former preserving days. Pantry shelves were stacked with summer’s bountiful bottled produce. These memories swirl around me as the work of transforming the tomatoes gathers momentum.

Today, a wiling army of tomato troops washed and sorted the tomatoes. A portion of the tomatoes were then chopped and repreatedly sieved to make ‘passata’ ( tomato puree). The rest were chopped, deseeded and packed tightly into bottles to make tomato conserve (tomato pieces with basil).  The respective batches of tomatoes were then boiled to well established cooking times, before being stored to cool. The precision of these processes have been honed over many years.  All details regarding weight, participants etc are faithfully recorded in Maria’s tomato day notebook.

Anna and her siblings are not only preserving tomatoes, but are fiercely determined to preserve tradition and keep alive their mother’s legacy.  I find these actions most re-assuring. They are protective of family inclusive actions.

Following a morning of frenzied activity, we downed tools and gathered for lunch.  I note the precision and cohesiveness of the cleanup. i further note the ease of preparing for the follow up feast.

The tomato troops, all fourteen of us gathered around a large table and shared a fluncheon of authentic Italian fare, accompanied by lashing s of bread and wine. The air around us is sweet and heavy with ripened tomatoes and the pungency of basil.  At the conclusion of our celebratory lunch Anna produces a surprise. –Canoli imported from Sicily for her cafĂ© , Via Boffe. A sweet delight provides a flavour filled bookend to our day of pomodoro productivity. Bellisimo!



  1. I could taste the tomato conserve as I read. What a wonderful tradition!

  2. What a wonderful tradition and I am so glad you were able to record this with words and photos. That's a lot of tomatoes! My mouth was watering throughout.


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