Both of my grandmothers died before I turned 21, and sometimes I wish I had been less of a petulant teenager and actually paid attention. I feel like some part of my history was lost when I compare it to people I know who are 40 and still have grandparents around to learn from.
I remember my grandma Marie standing in her kitchen peeling tomatoes. The water boiling on the stove and her just peeling and peeling. Bushels of tomatoes. The whole back half of my grandparents land was a huge garden. Growing and preserving was something that you did because if you didn't, you wouldn't eat. We pickled beans, beets, watermelon rinds, cucumbers. We made jams and jellies. I cannot think about the end of summer without thinking about putting things away for winter.
Having a garden this year has made me so happy. To even be able to provide a little of my family's food has brought me incredible joy. So far though I've been a little hesitant to really do much in the world of preserving. Despite having a chest freezer, I've opted to give away our excess tomatoes. I've been afraid of the peeling.
I know my grandmother learned to peel a tomato from Julia Child, but not actually owning her cookbook, all I could remember was that the tomatoes were hot, and my grandmother's hands were red. I'm pretty sure now it was just the tomato juice. It turns out that it is incredibly easy. Boil exactly 10 seconds (I have learned from her book, if she says exactly she means it). Peel from the top. I added a cold water bath to make it easier for me. I used a pasta fetcher thing to take them in and out of the water. I now have just over two quarts of peeled and quartered tomatoes. Now all I need to do is go buy some jars and make to make tomato jam.