Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Repela Tomate


This still life -- in our kitchen in Bridgewater, Massachusetts -- reminded me of the coffee repela (gleaning) we witness in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. As with tomatoes, specialty coffee is harvested when red-ripe. But at the end of the season, it is all harvested, with the ripe fruit (coffee is a fruit) sent on for processing and export, and the rest kept to ripen for home use.
Both photographs relate to climate change. In the case of Matagalpa, I have taken students to the same area almost every year since 2006, and only learned about this "gleaning" practice a few years ago, as the timing of the harvest at a given elevation shifted steadily earlier. Where we once were making the third or four regular pass through a stand of coffee trees, we are now making the fifth, final pass.

As for the tomatoes at home, Pam planted the tomatoes in the summer, as she always does, starting with seedlings on our sunny porch. But odd timing of wet, dry, cool, and hot periods resulted in very low yields, with the bulk of the crop growing very late in the season, when there was not enough sunlight to ripen them. She harvested these mostly green tomatoes when it became clear that no more ripening would occur, but frost very well might.

We will bag-ripen some of these, but stay tuned to Nueva Receta for news of some fried green creations!

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