Putting Up Rapini
The recorded message...
"...and for our Italian friends, pick your own Rapini."
With the sun shining, he hopped into his truck, took exit from the city, and made the trek to the country. The road was winding, flanked by budding and blooming trees. Lilac, cherry blossom, oak and pine. Wild Daffodils swayed with their faces towards the sun. Spring sounded off, saturating his vision, penetrating his lungs. Just up over the hill, in a clearing, the stand bulged out at the curve in the road.
The old man snipped away at the tender stalks, shaking off the excess water (he wished to pay for the rapini, not the rain that lay trapped in its furled leaves). Filling bag after bag, his back ached. Over 40 pounds of rapini. 50 cents a pound.
By afternoon we were soaking young, tender rapini in preparation for a quick blanch in salted water.
There were two pots set to boil. Six batches later, my fingers stung from handling infernal, limp stalks. Row after row slept between layers of paper towels.
Roberto chopped everything to a manageable size, piling fistfuls high in our largest Pyrex bowl.
We put up seven storage bags worth in our freezer that day. A glimmer of what's ahead. Local produce, picked at its peak. Put up for future use.