It’s been a quiet week at Chewonki, one of the few moments in the year when we don’t have any programs on campus, but there’s still pockets of hustle-and-bustle, most notably the farm and food teams who are in a mad dash against time to pick and process a mountain of fresh ripe tomatoes.
“Right now, my life is ruled by milk and tomatoes,” says Chewonki Kitchen Manager Bill Edgerton, wearing an expression that’s half-fatigue and half-bliss.
It is the golden season at the farm and the tomato crop is at its peak. The farmers are harvesting tomatoes by the bushel-basket –slicers, paste tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes– an avalanche of fruit. We also recently welcomed a new calf to the farm, Gina, a half-and-half mix of Jersey and Red Angus, which has increased our milk production.
According to Assistant Farm Manager Lisa Beneman, this year’s bounty of tomatoes includes:
- Sun Gold
- Sun Peach
- Super Sweet 100
- Tomimaru Muchoo
- Cosmonaut Bolkov
Until students and school groups start arriving next week, Chewonki staff have a mountain of perfectly ripe red, gold, and purple-and-green tomatoes all to themselves.
“It’s an embarrassment of riches,” said one staff member, unrepentantly popping another glowing cherry tomato into her mouth.
“They are coming in really fast every day,” says cook Hank Kleinschmidt. Whatever the kitchen team can’t use in the daily menu goes into two gigantic pots, perpetually simmering on the back burner.
When the cooked tomatoes are cool, they get a spin in a food processor to transform them into tomato sauce that is frozen for use in all kinds of cooking this fall and winter and next spring.
“I have frozen about 80 gallons of tomato sauce in the past 10 days,” says Kleinschmidt with a grin. It’s as close to bottling summer sunshine as we can get.