Sundried tomatoes....they bring to mind long, endless sultry summer days. The early morning spent gathering plump, small, sweet tomatoes to cut and lay out on mesh screens, bared to the ruthless rays of the summer light. Small hands venturing a swift touch to ascertain whether the ruby flesh has yet reached that perfect chewy consistency for a stolen snack. Adult hands swatting us away to play in the fields as screens are patiently tended, flipped, and moved to follow the sun's path over the course of the lazy, slow day. Cheesecloths are used to discourage insects and opportunistic bees, although the occasional foray by curious birds happens here and there.
The scent redolent of summer, tangy, causing mouths to water in expectation of a tart explosion of sensation on the tongue. Rich, dark red as they dry, the tomatoes taking on a curious leathery texture, rattling dryly as they are packed into bags for storage. In the winter months, pulled out to produce flavorful meals, sauces and condiments. Rehydrated, the heady bouquet of summer fills the kitchen and brings back memories of summers long past.
Gentle again, those memories of childhood, as they scroll fluidly through my mind's eye. Fruit dried in the most old fashioned manner producing treats throughout the rest of the year, both savory and sweet delights. Winter kitchens filled with zesty, robust tomato fragrance, followed by rich, tongue-tingling, spicy-sweet apple pies and fritters. Flaky buttery pastries melting in the mouth, eyes closed in rapturous enjoyment. All produced with humble mesh screens, wooden sawhorses, judicious exposure to the warm summer sun and time spent with family. What better reason to wax rhapsodic in this small, personal ode to the fruits and labors of distant childhood memories.