Tomato season's finally here!

on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In addition to peppers (both hot and not), eggplants, squash and herbs in your shares tomorrow, you'll be getting a bit more variety in your tomatoes. Here's just a teaser...

So what all's going on in that giant colander of tomatoes?

Well, let's start at the top with those odd little yellow-greeny ones. Those are Green Grape tomatoes - they're always a little bigger and more egg-shaped than your average cherry tomato. They're also a bit more yellow when ripe than their name implies. These are usually very juicy and "fresh" tasting - sort of "perky"?

Clockwise from there are a bunch of chocolate cherry (or black cherry) tomatoes (with something like a standard Celebrity tomato peeking up through them). These are really good and juicy, but don't pack QUITE the rich flavor that Black Krim tomatoes usually have. The good news is they're way more prolific than Black Krims, so I'll 'em!

There's another Celebrity tomato, and then you get to some odd brownish-orange tomatoes that are somewhere between a cherry tomato and a standard sized tomato in size. What are they? I THINK they're Black Krims? That's what they SHOULD be, but there's been very few of them on the plant, which is tucked out of the way, out of the garden, in just a spare spot along the edge of the yard. I'm thinking the plant's not very happy, and so this is all it's giving me. I've had a couple of these already and they're very good - super dark on the inside, and very juicy. So I think they're Black Krim runts.

Next around the edge are some super tiny, almost pear-shaped cherry tomatoes. These are on a plant that someone else gave me this spring, and I'm really liking them. The plant's been through hell, since it's potted on the deck, has been blasted by wind storms, got too heavy for it's support, and now it's crawling down through the deck rails. Still - you can see it's pretty good with the tomato production - these little guys make a nice addition to salads.

There's more "standard red" tomatoes piled in the bowl (most likely Celebrity), and then there's some funky red-and-orange tiger stripe tomatoes. NORMALLY I'd day these were just Red Zebra, Mr Stripey or Tigerella, but nope - these guys are totally different, and you can feel it when you hold them in your hand. They're way too light for their size and they feel unusually firm on the exterior. These are from a plant Margaret Maurer's husband Jeff passed along to me - and they're called Striped Cavern. They're pretty much what the name implies - striped on the outside, and almost hollow inside. These would be great for stuffing tomatoes - say if you were to slice off the top, hollow them out, fill with a veggie and/or meat mix, including some cheese, herbs and bread crumbs, put the top back on and bake. Unfortunately, after that sounded super tasty, I have to say there aren't that many - so you might find one in with your cherry-and-small-tomato mix containers.

If you look down past all the other tomatoes around the edge of the bowl, you'll see there are some lighter colored laaaarge tomatoes peeking up from the bottom of the bowl. Those are Lucky Cross, and they're beautiful. They're a bright orange-y yellow with some red stripes running through them. Consider them a beefsteak tomato - LARGE and great for slicing to put on sandwiches or just eating with a bit of salt and pepper. Or definitely a BLT worth tomato. They're not a perfectly smooth tomato shape, but their taste and coloration makes up for it.

You might also find a very pale gold tomato in your mix this week. These are confusing me. They're coming off've the plant tagged "Aunt Ruby's Green Giant", which I've grown for the last 4+ years. Usually they get really big and then get just a LITTLE gold or peach tinge when they're ripe (but they're overall very obviously green). So I'm wondering if I swapped a label around, or got a packet of mislabeled seeds? Unfortunately the first three of these to ripen, something in the garden snacked on. I might have to start setting out mouse traps to catch a vole or two... If you get one of these in your share, give it a couple days on the counter - they still seem very firm, and might not be fully ripe yet.

As I've said many times - my tomatoes are INCREDIBLY late in ripening this season - and I've talked to enough other gardeners to find out I'm not the only one (whew - it's not just me!). My plants really aren't loaded with fruit this year, but the ones they ARE producing are turning out to be really tasty....and hopefully new in color, shape, size and taste than you're used to getting in the stores. We'll see what the upcoming weeks bring...

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