Friday, August 31, 2012

The Great Tomato Can-Can

Horses and buckboards waiting on their owners at the Mennonite produce auction.

Some of the goods on offer.
Most of the produce is sold in big lots, or if there are multiples, as in boxes of tomatoes or bags of corn, the high bidder designates how many units he/she will take at that price.

Note the small boy towing the laden trolley.
Quite young children are always there doing their part to put out the family's produce.

Gina admires a green pepper.
I wonderif these are the variety Park's Whopper.

The tag on these identified them as "Warty Thing' pumpkins.
I gather they are intended as autumn decoration rather than a prime eating pumpkin.

These are heirloom tomatoes--larger than they appear in the photo.

Can you spot J. in the bidding crowd?

There were several groups of young girls clad in the traditional Mennonite garb which would have been right at home for Laura and her sisters of "Little House on the Prairie."
I wanted to take a photo without being offensively obvious about it.  The plump, bearded gentleman got in the way, but as G. noted on seeing the photo, the girls seem to be posing and looking
directly at the camera.

Several boys were happy to haul our 9 boxes of tomatoes to the edge of the auction floor for J. and one of the nearby men to load.
G. handed the 'in charge' seeming lad 3 dollar bills.
As we exited the parking lot she was amused to see the 'tip' already being spent at the ice cream
vendor's wagon!

Canning is done--the undertaking that Cousin Tom refers to as the tomato "can-can!"
56 qts put up, 1 pint, and a bowl of stewed tomatoes for J. to sample.
There was a small percentage of waste--mostly from tomatoes that had a woody core.
Sadly, the drought has affected many of the area fruits and veg with dry and less flavorful flesh than usual.
Commercially grown tomatoes are never as juicy and tender as the varieties I grew for decdes in my Vermont garden.
Still, these will be a welcome and tasty addition to soups and sauces this winter.
The sly packers slipped a few yellow tomatoes into several boxes.  These aren't canners as they are sub-acid, but are being added to sandwiches.
My total yield works out at about $1 per quart--not counting labor and cost of using the stove.
Labor and fuel are simply part of the price of eating well.


  1. Oh I love the photos!

    Am dehydrating and chutney-ing and freezing tomatos - here.

    and eating them fresh, of course!

  2. Oh well done. My toms yielded 3 tiny tomatoes and that was it. They tasted good though! I have had ONE courgette, which I had to pick half grown as the slugs had found it.

    I was right in spotting J (!) and wish I could have come to your produce auction. We used to go to one at Wareham in Dorset, nothing like that here though. I bet you are SO glad you have everything canned now.

  3. Great photos. My 'retired-guy' is Mennonite from the Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario area. Lots of farms up that way although his family lived in the small town of Wellesley. I'm very used to seeing the 'dress' of the small children when I visit there. So cute! We live near Ottawa, Ontario, about 300km from Kitchener. Love the photos and looks like you have your work cut out for you. Enjoy!

  4. My late husband used to plant enough tomatoes to keep me busy all summer and well into the fall. I just had a couple of cherry tomato plants and they did well this summer.

    Love the pictures of the Mennonite auction.

  5. I love the fragrance in a tomato canning kitchen!

  6. Fascinating post, would loved to have gone to that auction and seen all the vegetables. Enjoy the fruits of your labour....