We just used up our last can of home preserved tomatoes and it’s only the beginning of June! Tomatoes are a staple in our kitchen. Not fresh tomatoes, but various forms of preserved tomatoes that we feverishly can in late summer. Obviously we eat fresh tomatoes when they are in season, but the season is short and there are so many recipes we love that call for tomatoes in one form or another.

At the end of last summer we had at least five dozen quarts of canned tomatoes on hand. We had also preserved about 20 pints of tomato sauce and about 10 jars of ketchup. The sauce was used up months ago, but this didn’t impact us much as we continued to make it as needed from our canned tomatoes. We used the last jar of ketchup a couple of weeks ago and our son seemed a bit perplexed when his grilled cheese sandwich was placed before him without the usual side of this delicious homemade condiment.

We usually purchase our tomatoes through various farmers over several weeks in late summer. Our strategy is to go from booth to booth at the farmer’s market checking to see if anyone has sauce grade tomatoes that they will sell us at a reduced rate. These boxes of tomatoes typically include some with imperfections that render them unsuitable for display at the market, some that are damaged in transit, and some that are overripe. However, they are just perfect for canning. We’ve never had to source tomatoes any other way. This is the beauty of preserving a food during its peak season.

While we are disappointed that we are losing a staple we rely on for many favorite dishes, at the same time there is something satisfying about it. We put up enough tomatoes to feed our family through the fall, winter, and spring. With the absence of any form of tomato in our kitchen for a couple of months, we’ll surely appreciate the return of delicious, fresh tomatoes in mid summer!