Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tomato Taste-Off, Part One

Picked an entire basketful of tomatoes today.  It was glorious!  Something's eating into quite a few of them (20 or so so far, guesstimate), so I need to figure out what that is and hopefully I can stop it.  In the meantime, I'll be picking a few when they are about half ripe and let them ripen on the counter.  German Johnson and Red Brandywine are two I picked early, but they're not ripe enough to eat yet. 

I picked out the ones that weren't ripe yet and set them on the counter.  Next, I picked out some of the prettiest ones and set them aside for eating fresh.  Last were the ones to go in the freezer.  I got two big gallon ziplocs out of the first round and half a ziploc of Romas later. 
The freezer will be full soon at this rate.  They should have company soon ~ two calves we're going to have butchered.  A story for another post...

When George gets time, he'll cook them down for pasta sauce.  It's going to be heavenly!  Tomatoes, onions, peppers, parsley, oregano, marjoram and thyme, all from the garden.  I can't wait to eat some.  It's so satisfying to sit down to a meal that the majority of was raised by me.

As I was sorting the tomatoes, I was also saving seeds.  You may have noticed some black writing on some of the tomatoes in the picture above.  I take a sharpie out to the garden with me and write the name of the tomato right on it to make sure I don't get them mixed up. 

Once inside, I simply cut the tomato horizontally, squeeze the seeds into a labeled cup, fill with water and set off to the side to ferment.  I've got them sitting on a table in the corner of the dining room and they're already drawing fruit flies.  Nine varieties so far (two cups are Cherokee Purple).

Along the way of all this freezing and seed saving I did some tasting.  Here's how the contestants are faring so far.

Black Giant (in photo at right) ~ Flavor: wonderfully acidic and rich, all around really good. Huge slicing size.  Skins very tender. Heavy producer, possibly because it was planted early, in the second wave of planting.

Cherokee Purple ~ Flavor: strong, bold and rich.  One of my favorite tomatoes.  My two plants have produced like crazy, probably because I got them in so early, though I had heard CP produces well in the heat.

Oxheart ~ Flavor: Usual tomato taste, acidic, pretty darn good.  MASSIVE tomatoes at first.  Produces quite a bit, probably because I got them in early (second wave of planting). 

Riesentraube ~ Flavor: full bodied, sweet but acidity shines through just enough.  Large cherry size.  Produces in a large bunch with a dozen or more on each truss.  Has set two trusses so far.

Silvery Fir Tree ~ Flavor: Strong and acidic, VERY good.  Small slicing size.  Average amount of seeds, average to low amount of meat, and tough skins.  Pretty inside regardless.  Weak plant, not drought tolerant at all ~ never got very big (1/6 the size of others planted at same time) and died after a few days without water when others next to it just wilted (might do better in a cooler climate or some other year than this record-breaking HOT drought). 

Juliet ~ Flavor: nothing special, but pretty good when you haven't had home grown tomatoes for a year.  Tough skin.  HEAVY producer, early, too.

Matt's Wild Cherry ~ Flavor: tart and acidic.  Lots of flavor for such a tiny little thing.  Tough skins.  Produces absolutely like MAD.  

Sungold ~ Flavor: nothing special again.  HEAVY and early producer.

Roma ~ Flavor: rich and yummy as ever.  Meaty with few seeds.  Heavy producer at first since it's a determinate.  Will cut it back and fertilize heavily after this flush to see if I can get another.

Principe Borghese ~ Flavor: nothing special and kind of bland.  Supposed to be delicious when dried, so I'll try that with the next few.  Didn't produce too many, but this plant was one of the last I put in.

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