I took down my tomato plants this morning. I stepped out in my p.j.'s and slippers, down the steps and onto the chilly, dew-laden path, and began to strip the vines bare. It would frost well before the green fruit had a chance to ripen, and besides, I had a winter garden to make way for.
Dismantling the plants reminded me of taking down the Christmas tree; I worked slowly, methodically, wrapping each fruit in newspaper and dropping it gently into my basket. The event brought the same twinge of sadness, too, for a season too quickly passed and long months ahead idle with anticipation. When every last green globe was gone, I tore up the roots and cages and walked back to the house.
The tomatoes I tucked away, like ornaments, on the top shelf of a basement closet. It was cool down there, and dry thanks to the dehumidifier, and the tomatoes would keep well in their paper sweaters til Christmas time, at least. Unwrapped one by one, they'd ripen on the windowsill upstairs, soaking up the warmth and light until finally they blazed red as an August fruit.
Perhaps we'd make them into a stew, or a hearty pasta; a bit of cheer on a dreary November day. But for now, they could settle in to wait.
TOMATOES IN PAPER
Pick green tomatoes at the end of the season and wrap them up individually in paper. Store them in a cool, dark room. Ripen as needed by unwrapping and exposing the tomatoes to warmth and light. They will keep for about three months.