Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Full Flavor of Summer

We relished the first fresh tomatoes from New Roots Farm last week. The tomatoes are juicy, colorful, and full of flavor, features that are absent from any store bought tomato.
Farmer Renee at New Roots grows all of her tomatoes in high tunnels or greenhouses now, given the risk of blight and other rain and wind borne pests that now plague field grown tomatoes in our region.
The tomatoes in my own garden are lackluster. The plants are tall and spindly. Chipmunks take a bite of any tomato that turns red and knock green ones off the plants. The San Marzano plants are loaded with fruit, but are suffering from blossom end rot. For next year I might build a small hoop house for my tomatoes as it pains me to see my tomatoes feed the local chipmunk population or succumb to disease.

On the bright side, blueberries are in season and the flavor is sweet. I picked 8 pounds yesterday at Inkwell Farm, a local organic blueberry farm in Epping, New Hampshire.
The bushes were not loaded with berries, but the fruit that I picked was plump and sweet and seemed pest free. I saw no evidence of the spotted wing drosophila, a tiny fruit fly that has invaded from China. For the past few years it has ravaged many a blueberry crop.

Blueberry picking is rewarding, especially when you find a bush full of ripe berries that was missed by other pickers. At Inkwell Farm I head for the bushes in the back, near the prickly spruce trees, where it is difficult to walk around the bushes. That is where I fill my quart boxes. While picking, I usually listen to the catbirds that find a home among the tall blueberry bushes or the resident guinea hens. Other pickers usually come in pairs or as a family and carry on conversations about work, family, baking, or local news. Occasionally I glean something useful from these overheard chats, such as how to make a better pie. Mostly I get lost in the search for the best blueberry bush and just enjoy the picking (and tasting).

Our growing season is all too short here, so best to get outside and enjoy the full flavor of a New England summer.

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