Sunday, August 29

2010 Tomato Harvest: A Review

As usual, I grew a variety of funky tomatoes this year.  Some, like 'Black Krim' and 'Cherokee Purple' can be considered old standbys by now... and others, like 'Lemon Boy,' 'Great White,' and 'Big Rainbow' were new varieties, grown in an attempt to get my boyfriend on board with my tomato mania.  (He's gone from "not really liking tomatoes all that much," to "liking them roasted, or fresh as long as they aren't too tomato-y." Baby steps!)

Top to bottom, and left to right within rows:  Big Rainbow, Cherokee Purple, LaRoma Gold, Great White, Brandywine Red, Black Krim, Lemon Boy


So I can remember what to plant again, and what to pass by, here's my 2010 tomato review:


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Black Krim:  Still my absolute favorite, taste-wise--rich and almost smoky. (So good it never needs salted!) Better production on this year's plants, so I am definitely saving seeds from this plant.


Cherokee Purple:  Second only to 'Black Krim' in flavor, but usually favored over BK in my garden for its bountiful production.  However, my CP plants produced terribly this year, and the vines seemed all-around wimpy.  That will teach me to be so lazy about seed-starting that I have to buy plants--thankfully, I still have last year's seeds to use for 2011.


Big Rainbow:  I usually like the sweet tomato taste of striped tomatoes, but 'Big Rainbow' was a big letdown.  It was so... bland.  Like when you pick a melon too early, and it's juicy but has very little flavor.  I tried salting it to see if the flavor enhancement would help... and just ended up feeling like I was eating watery salt.  Definitely won't bother growing this one again.


LaRoma Gold:  If you're looking for a super-sweet tomato for canning and sauce, 'LaRoma Gold' would be perfect.  This was a great producer, even though it only received sunshine until about 2pm and then was in shade for the rest of the day.  Note: It rapidly outgrew its caging system and toppled over into a horizontal position, which makes me think that it may be a different golden plum tomato--'LaRoma' is supposed to be a more compact plant.  (In its defense, LRG barely missed a beat during that fall and continues to ripen tomatoes as if nothing happened.)  I'm still undecided as to whether I am growing this again, simply because I prefer "rich" over "sweet" when it comes to tomato sauce.


Great White:  This was a nice tomato--a huge beefsteak that ripened to a creamy ivory color with a hint of yellow and faint pink streaking on the blossom end when ripe. (Note: it somehow looks yellow in the photo above, but ivory is a much better color description.)  'Great White' is definitely a sweeter tomato, but still with a robust tomato flavor.  I saved seeds and will plant this one again next year.


Lemon Boy:  The non-tomato-loving boyfriend's favorite, this tomato is on the sweeter side but with a hint of lemon-y acidity that balanced out the sweet very nicely.  It's a great snacking tomato, and a good size--not as large as a beefsteak, but large enough for good sandwich coverage when sliced.  I'll plant another one of these next year, both for snacking and so that I have a tomato that both of us will enjoy.


Brandywine Red:  I bought 'Brandywine Red' purely because I started to fear that my eclectic tomato choices were a little fancy, and a good solid red tomato might keep me from seeming too elitist.  I'd never grown it before, but I'm now convinced that 'Brandywine Red' is what 99.99% of the population envision when someone says, "tomato."  Deep red, perfectly tomato-shaped, balanced in terms of sweetness and acidity, and having just the right amount of flavor without being "too rich."  I think that BR's might be my new go-to red tomato type.

Red Zebra:  'Green Zebra' tomatoes have a lot of zing... sadly, 'Red Zebra' tomatoes do not.  These were small, heart-shaped tomatoes with pretty streaking, and they would probably look beautiful in salads.  But the flavor didn't do much for me, so I just let Coco have at harvesting them whenever she wanted a snack for herself... and I probably won't bother with them next year.  They were just okay.
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Just so I have everything in one post, I want to say a little something about the cherry tomatoes I grew this year, too.  'White Cherry' was amazingly sweet--like pretty ivory candy tomatoes--and I will probably try to grow two of those next year, just so I have enough of them to snack on in the garden.  'Sungold' packed a lot of zing into tiny, round, golden orange fruits... but somehow they failed to capture my heart.  I think I'll go back to 'Yellow Pear' instead.  'Black Cherry' was my biggest heartbreak, though... the fruits were not very dark and really just reminded me of those grocery store cherry tomatoes in terms of flavor.  Based on internet searches, I'm pretty sure that I either did NOT have a true 'Black Cherry' plant, or that mine came from some inferior strain of the plant... so I'm going to give it another try, from a new source, in 2011.


And with that, I'm off to roast some multi-colored tomato sauce, to help stock the freezer for this coming winter.  If you have any suggestions on tomatoes you think that I might want to try next year, please feel free to leave those in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for a new, awesome tomato!

15 comments:

Matron said...

Interesting reviews. I find the black and purple tomatoes have great flavour. My chocolate cherry tomatoes are superb! maybe you have a different strain of seed?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You make tomato growing sound like quite the adventure. I might have to try the one you said did ok in not so full sun.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Matron, that's what I'm hoping... that this plant (which I bought as a plant at a local garden center) is from an inferior strain of seed. The coloring isn't even quite right on these, and I really want them to be as rich and delicious as I had hoped.

Greenbow Lisa, okay, confession time: I don't think any of my tomato plants get direct sun much past 3:30pm. They're all shaded by the house, but it doesn't seem to make a difference to them at all--I'd just give one a try in your sunniest spot, and make sure that it has good air circulation around it!

Msrobin said...

Thanks for your opinion on tomato varieties. I don't grow fancy tomatoes, but I want one with that rich, traditional tomato taste. I don't think it's sweetness that I'm looking for, but the old fashioned tomatoey taste I remember as a child. Perhaps Brandywine is what I want? I think I'll give up on starting my own from seed, the greenhouse down the road seems to have a pretty good variety of plants. Do any homegrown tomatoes come without that unpleasant chewy skin?

Blackswamp_Girl said...

MsRobin, I think that you'll like the Brandywine Red... and that should be a variety that your local garden center carries, too. As for the skin, it doesn't bother me at all (so I don't bother to do this) but you can follow these directions to easily peel off the skin.

Patsy Bell Hobson said...

Love your list. My favorite black tomato is Carbon. But I like them all.

Patsy Bell Hobson said...

Love your list. My favorite black tomato is Carbon. But I like them all.

chuck b. said...

My next garden will be much warmer than my current garden and I will grow so many tomatoes it will be redonkulous.

Kate said...

Good to know about the Red Zebras. The greens are a fave of mine...

Gail said...

Okay, now I really need a BLT!

Tamara said...

I tried the Russian heirloom Black Sea Man this year and it was delish. Also survived a late March snowstorm(!) here in TX. Yeah, it was a weird year here.

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

Kim, you might want to try Black Tiger this year, a great tomato. Thanks for the info, although I have grown Black Krim, some of the others I have not tried, good thing there is always next year!

robith said...

Long time favourite of mine is brandywine gold. Big, dark gold fruit with rich flavour, not much jelly and seed, and one slice makes a sandwich. Just starting off tomatoes for this year here in New Zealand, but serious spring storms are hitting at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Long time favourite of mine is brandywine gold. Big, dark gold fruit with rich flavour, not much jelly and seed, and one slice makes a sandwich. Just starting off tomatoes for this year here in New Zealand, but serious spring storms are hitting at the moment.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Thanks so much for all of the suggestions! I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable about many of the crazy options in heirloom tomatoes... but you all have come up with some new ones for me. (Brandywine GOLD? Black Tiger? YUM!)

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