Goodbye, Tomatoes!

September 27, 2006

For me, there’s nothing better than a bright red tomato, ripened in the sun, preferably from my own garden. I’m talking about a tomato that is so good and juicy; all you need is a salt shaker. No knife, no fork, just a pinch of salt and a big bite, with juice running all the way down my arm to my elbow. Even better if they’re still a little warm from the sun. Back in the day we would buy tomatoes by the bushel from Luebcke’s Farmstand and set them on the back porch with some napkins and one of those tin salt shakers, the kind with the handle on the side. Everyone would help themselves. What was left ended up in ball jars in the fruitcellar, and eventually in a pot of chili or spaghetti sauce. This year we were the grateful recipients of what must have been a bumpercrop for some friends of ours. We ate the last one over the weekend.

Plant `em in the spring;
eat `em in the summer.
All winter with out `em’s a culinary bummer.
Only two things that money can’t buy, that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.

-Guy Clark

Ah, lament the passing of summer and homegrown tomatoes! What are we left with? An unsavory little product of Purdue University’s genetic engineering. In the early 70’s I attended a summer horticulture program at Purdue, where they were working to develop a tomato that would ripen slower, travel farther, and stay on the grocery store shelf longer.

Sadly enough, they hit their mark. This tomato has been sitting on the cabinet for well over a month. I thought it might ripen, but no, it’s just as hard and orange as when I brought it home. This tomato has outlasted two grocery bags full of garden tomatoes.

Having a tomato in my salad in December is nice. I guess. I’m just not sure the gain was worth the loss. Come on Purdue! Maybe you could go back to the drawing board one more time and give it the old college try. You can do it Boilers, I know you can!

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18 Responses to “Goodbye, Tomatoes!”

  1. mjd Says:

    Not caring much for tomatoes, I am not a connoissuer. So when my children were growing to adulthood, any tomato was a good as another to me. I did not often buy tomatoes, but any old hothouse pink-colored fruit would suffice. Then one summer a friend gave the family some homegrown beautiful, red ripe tomatoes fresh from the garden. Our poor botanically deprived son, Luke, exclaimed, “There is something wrong with these tomatoes.” The poor child actually thought tomatoes are supposed to pink and crunchy.

    But for you tomato lovers, I am sure that Purdue can engineer a December prize.

  2. willi Says:

    Thanks to the friend who sent the tomatoes. It provided us with the one thing money can’t buy that we didn’t have already.

  3. SongBird Says:

    Yum!! I could “taste” that perfect summer tomato as I read your post. Definitely is something I miss during the off-season months.

  4. Jay Says:

    Most of the tomatoes that you find on the grocery store shelves are similar to the fake plastic centepiece displays.

  5. Peggy Says:

    I love the home grown tomato. Better than those year-round pink tennis balls.

    Is the quote you used perhaps from Louden Wainright III instead?

  6. gawilli Says:

    Cute story, mjd! Purdue would have to genetically engineer a tomato to make it more like a real tomato…imagine that!

    Willi-you got that right!

    Songbird, I already miss it!

    Jay, that is exactly what I was thinking about the rock hard tomato sitting in my kitchen. I could put it in an arrangement and it would last forever. Ha!

  7. gawilli Says:

    Peggy – pink tennis balls is a good descriptor!

    Guy Clark wrote “Homegrown Tomatoes” and recorded it first on the “Better Days” album in 1983. His songs are covered by many artists so it’s a good possibility you heard Loudon Wainwright sing it. John Denver even recorded it. Guy Clark is one of my favorites. Just like homegrown tomatoes!

  8. M J Says:

    Thanks for stopping by my journal!

    It was a wonderful year for tomatoes here. I have my freezer full to get me through the winter… but I know its not the same as fresh.

  9. saz Says:

    home grown are the best…I used to do the same thing and eat them from the garden with salt!

  10. Tod Says:

    I can’t eat them as they come but love them in other dishes. It is annoying when they don’t ripen. I feel the same way about crunchy strawberries. I hate the fact that even in the height of season we can only get rock hard ones that stay that way till they suddenly slump into a goo overnight.

  11. her indoors Says:

    mmmmmmm lovely juciy tomatoes my mouth is watering now

  12. Peggy Says:

    In honour of your blog entry, I had a BLT with a tomato outta my greenhouse (still warm).

    When they’re gone, I just do without them as best I can. If I need a fresh tomato, I try to get the best ones. You know, the sun ripened, oranic ones. They have the best flavour. The flavour doesn’t come close to home grown, but close enough.

  13. John Says:

    I can remember during WW2 when my dad grew tomatoes on a small patch of earth in our back yard. I can still taste them. Today’s tomatoes seem to taste of nothing in particular unless you buy the neatly packaged expensive ‘on the vine’ variety.

  14. gawilli Says:

    Mj, even frozen, the flavor is still there! Glad you stopped by.

    Saz and Her indoors, that’s one of those “it doesn’t get any better than this” moments – mouth watering good!

    Todemesne, strawberries should not crunch. It’s just wrong.

  15. graymama Says:

    Sadly, we lost our fabulous tomato plants to late blight because mother nature decided to drop buckets of water on us for weeks at a time. At least we had a month and a half of fresh, red, juicy goodness 🙂

  16. Cazzie!!! Says:

    That is way too spooky!!! We just finished eating a punnet of cherry tomatoes tonight, the girls and I love htnm. I have them with my protein at night to aid in the digestion of my meal.
    Love the pics, yummo!!!

  17. Life, or Something Like It Says:

    I can only eat tomatoes in a sandwich. I do miss the garden that we had in our yard when we were kids. We grew tomatoes, green beans,cucumber….the only thing growing in my garden now is flowers.


  18. […] its been almost a year since I posted about the joys of a succulent, juice running down your arm, homegrown tomato. And just about as […]


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