The last couple of weeks are kind of a blur. It seems I have been occupied quite a bit with all things tomato. I’ve made three batches of tomato sauce for the freezer, and I cooked down one batch of tomato puree. I make the puree by peeling and coring the tomatoes, then they get processed briefly in the blender. After that I cook them in a big kettle until they thicken and are reduced by about half. And I’ve frozen quite a few jars of whole tomatoes, which are cored and skinned.
We’ve also been dehydrating the tomatoes and slow roasting them. When finished we seal them up with our vacuum sealer in small portions and store them in the freezer. The dehydrated tomatoes don’t have to be frozen. but we found they retain their quality a lot longer that way.
It’s far enough along in the season now that I can make a few observations on how the individual tomato varieties are performing for us. Now is the time for me to decide what works, what doesn’t, and what won’t get invited back for another year.
Sun Gold will definitely be back for another year. It and Supersweet 100 were planted side by side, and they have grown and intermingled so that it would seem we have gold and red cherry tomatoes coming from the same plant. Both are prolific and wonderful tasting, sweet and delicious. They are everything I could ask for in a cherry tomato.
Juliet is another perennial star performer for us. We don’t eat many of them as is, but they are great for drying and roasting. And it is a prolific, disease resistant variety. It can be used much like you would a Roma type, if you don’t mind the smaller size. It’s truly a multi-purpose tomato.
Black Cherry is doing well for us again this year. When dead ripe, the tomatoes are almost as sweet as Sun Gold, with a complex and interesting flavor. Even when just merely ‘ripe’, they are sweet and tasty. When dried, the flavor and sweetness are concentrated. This one is fast becoming one of my favorites. It’s nice sized and pretty to look at as well.
Golden Rave is an interesting and useful tomato. I think of it as a yellow Roma. It can be dried, roasted, or made into sauce or puree. It can be used in any application where a Roma type works. I don’t think it has much flavor raw, but that’s just me. I’m thinking I need to plant more than one cage of these next year.
This is the first year I’ve grown Golden Sweet, but it won’t be the last. Many of the grape tomatoes I’ve grown before have been lacking in taste, but not this one. It’s prolific, very sweet, and definitely a keeper.
The pear tomatoes have disappointed me this year. The red and yellow have been prolific, but their taste leaves much to be desired. The Black Pear hasn’t done much of anything. I think I will skip all the pear types next year. There are just too many other varieties that we like better.
The slicers are having a great year. Old favorites like Better Boy and Celebrity are doing well, but Jetsetter is off the charts. I have one cage with two Jetsetter plants and it has produced a whopping 25 pounds of tomatoes so far. They are a great size for slicing, and good tasting too. It’s early too, rated at 64 days to maturity. It’s blown Champion II right out of the water.
Cherokee Purple is the surprise tomato of the year. After years of often dismal results trying to grow various Brandywines and other large heirloom types, I should have been growing Cherokee Purple instead. One of our local Master Gardeners (Ernie) has been recommending them to everyone for years, and now I will recommend them too! My wife and I have declared it our favorite for BLT’s. I will be planting more than one cage of these next time.
I’ve also had good luck with the heirloom Eva Purple Ball. I got seed for it from another local MG (Debbie). I see a definite pattern here. I need to be comparing notes more often with my fellow MG’s who are tomato-heads like me! Eva Purple Ball however is only fair tasting to me, but that’s ok because it has been useful for processing and pretty prolific. I’ll give it a shot next year and see how it does. I need to remember to save from seed from one of these.
Black Zebra has been so-so. We’ve gotten quite a few tomatoes from it, but they have been unremarkable in my books. And its cousin Green Zebra died for the third year in a row. I’m going to blame my seed source for that one. I have grown it successfully before but this last packet of seeds just didn’t work.
That’s all I can say about tomatoes for the moment. I’ll probably weigh in with more observations before that last tomato is harvested in 2011. Speaking of harvesting, we’ve gotten 171 pounds of tomatoes so far this year. No wonder I could use some rest!