Tasting Notes: Tomatoes

October 10th, 2007

Tomatoes kill brain cells. How else to explain the fact that I started this post at the end of August, and now can’t remember most of what I intended to write? We’ve been eating a lot of tomatoes – that must be it.

So then, this is an abbreviated summary of the tomatoes I grew this year, in order of size:

Ildi – A yellow pear tomato. It was definitely the most prolific tomato I grew. That’s probably the nicest thing I can say about it – the skin was unpleasantly tough and the flavor was average. While I was cleaning up the garden, I tossed some of these on the ground and left them there for a few days and they were untouched by any wild critters. What does that tell you? I won’t grow this one again.

Black Cherry – A round cherry tomato of middling size, it ripens to those green/red/purple colors that usually mean good flavor (see Black Russian below). That flavor was was I was after when I bought the seeds. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that flavor, and I wouldn’t grow this one again.

Thai Pink – A small plum tomato, rather firm when ripe, but juicy rather than meaty. I wasn’t all that keen on this one until I found a recipe that suited it exactly – Tomatoes in Spicy Yogurt Sauce – which calls for whole peeled tomatoes. I’m not sure what else ‘Thai Pink’ is good for, but the taste and size are just perfect in that dish. I may grow it again just for that – we really liked the recipe. On the other hand, I think a tomato like ‘Juliet’ would work just as well. And I’ve never grown ‘Juliet’, so I may rotate that one in and ‘Thai Pink’ out.

Bonito Ojo – A small round tomato (> golf ball, < tennis ball). A huge quantity of fruit ripened simultaneously early in the season. The flavor was very tart, good for salsa, but I don’t need/want that many small tomatoes all at once. It was also prone to cracking. I probably won’t grow it again.

Eva Purple Ball – Eva is the beauty contest winner – almost no cracking or blemishes; nice sized (> baseball, < softball) with pink skin over red flesh. The flavor is only OK. If you must have perfect-looking tomatoes, this is a good choice. If you want perfect-tasting tomatoes…well, I think there are better ones.

Striped Roman – A long, thick ‘Roma’ type; very meaty. It has a marvelous sweet-tart flavor tending toward the tart side. This has been a favorite for several years now, and I expect I’ll be growing it as long as I’m gardening.

Black Russian – A large green/purple/brown/dark red tomato. This is my favorite for flavor – a deep, dark, almost smoky, essence of tomato flavor. The downside is the disappointment at how many I lost to cracking and rotting. I’ll grow this again next year, but if I could find a variety with the same flavor and less cracking, I’d evict ‘Black Russian’.

Cherokee Purple – A large pink/purple beefsteak type tomato. The flavor is notably sweet; I was expecting something more like Black Russian, but it’s not at all like that – much sweeter. This will probably be invited back next year, but if I end up with too long a list of new ones to try, then maybe not.

Kellogg’s Breakfast – This wins the prize for size; the yellow-orange tomatoes are very large, and incidentally, this was the first of the large ones to ripen. The flavor is surprising for a yellow tomato – quite flavorful and sweet; I’m wondering how similar this is to Persimmon, which some other bloggers have written about this year. I’ll grow this one again next year.

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