From Grandpa’s Field into the Cellar: The End of Tomato Season


(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos)

Some countries do not have the luxury of fresh food all year round like Greece. Deep winters and tall snowdrifts in many northern areas do not allow anything to grow. So, people in many European countries preserve vegetables and fruit in jars for the winter. It is true that Greece can cultivate a great variety of food each season, due to the mild winter and hot summer - climate change ‘helped’ in that.

Nevertheless, Greek rural people have a long tradition of saving what they are not able to consume. You can say that kind of life attitude against food waste is in our blood. Summer goodies like tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs, and many other things will be missed in the depths of winter, so, Autumn is the season of ‘saving the leftovers.’

Even in cities, many people try to have quality food all the time, hence many of them make homemade sauces, jams, pickles and so on. The most popular are tomato sauces. Good fresh tomatoes at the end of season are cheap and free of pesticides. Usually, the Roma variety are the ones with a lot of juice and ideal flavor. But traditional Greece varieties should not be missing from your cellar either. A good example is ‘Ilida’ a very old variety, good for tomato sauce.

Houses this season are filled with the sweet and sour aroma of tomato sauce. You remember the ‘good old days’ in the village with ‘pappoudes’ and ‘giagiades.’

It is very easy to make tomato sauce and keep it in a jar. The trick is for it to be boiled enough, make it as thick as you can, put it in a jar, close it and immediately, turn the jar upside down. Tomato sauce preserves a lot of nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and a great amount of vitamin A and carotene. It is a great source of antioxidants for winter colds.

Worldwide there are more than 1,200 varieties of tomatoes. In Greece, many varieties have been saved by national institutes or NGOs which offer seeds each year. Each traditional variety is part of our ‘national capital’ and should not be lost. We owe it to our grandparents to preserve these traditions in our cellars.

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an Msc in Botany-Biology.