Just a few notes on a few selections of tomatoes from a section of a book I was once writing, I thought it might bemuse a few of you and aid you in tomato selection.
Paul Robeson: While this is not on my permanent grow list, I grow this every year. I am not sure why. I think, simply because it is so pretty and unusually dependable. The thing that ruins this tomato for me is it is very wet and juicy and I find myself pressing the water out when using for a sandwich. It does have a mild, smoky, black tomato flavor to it. I generally like my tomatoes to punch me in the face and loudly proclaim I am a tomato darn it, and overwhelm me with it bold tomato taste and acidity. You know, I like manly tomatoes. This is sort of a dainty sissy type tomato to my palate, very subtle. Still I grow it as I have friends and family who like girly tomatoes. It is fairly early and a pretty good producer. It also is good in a salsa. Taste wise I give it a 3.4. But my preferences are obvious.
Aunt Ruby’s German Green: Another one of those, what the heck is this thing supposed to be fruits masquerading as a tomato. This one is wet and seedy, makes a lousy drier, and is really, really hard to catch right, but boy it is good. I love to use this one in a club sandwich. You have to pat it dry to use it in a sandwich and I would recommend you use a real tomato in another layer of the sandwich if you are looking for something with that tomato bite, but this has an awesome sweet, modestly acidic, light citrus and spicy taste. It works great in the sandwich layer with a mild cheese like Havarti that brings out its flavor or with a strong cheese like a sharp cheddar or a pungent Swiss that brings out its contrast, in other words don’t go middle of the road with American Cheese or Colby. It works exceptionally well in a tuna salad sandwich or against a thin slice of a pungent onion or sweet onion. It also is darn good in a salsa. It is an okay producer, gets nailed by disease now and then but is so unique that I grow it every year and am sad if I do not get a few. On my permanent grow list. By the way, make a club sandwich with this one using Aunt Ruby’s in one layer and Amana Orange in another layer…the taste variety will astound you.
Sunsugar, Sungold, Super Sweet 100. Very, very early and prolific. People tell me these are tomatoes, okay maybe you can convince me Super Sweet 100 is related to a tomato 10 generations removed, but Sunsugar and Sungold, no way. There is no tomato taste in these – period. They are simply candy, but darn wonderful candy at that. I don’t call them tomatoes and you should not either, but darn these are good. I grow them because chicks dig them and kids like them (don’t tell people, but so do I). I usually eat these outside while I work with real tomatoes. Sunsugar and Sungold are F1s so no seed saving. They make the ultimate no guilt snack food.
Mortgage Lifter. I must say, I really like this tomato. All in all I would say this has the best combination of texture, meat to seed ratio, and level of moisture to flavor of any tomato I have ever grown. It is the best sandwich tomato in terms actual use I have ever seen. It holds together perfectly in a sandwich and is not too wet. The taste is rather complex and is one of the best tasting tomatoes around. If this was earlier it would compete fairly evenly with my beloved Black Giant. It has now moved up to my permanent grow list. This tomato has it all as slicer. And of course one of the best origin stories of all time. The only fault I find, and it is a strange one, is it hard to pair with anything except a cheese or cottage cheese. In other words if you try it in a BLT you will likely find it lacking, same in a turkey sandwich or tuna fish. The trouble with it is it has a complex and subtle flavor that really wants to star in the sandwich but the subtlety of it gets drowned out when you combine it with meat. So what do I do: problem easily remedied. I let it be the star of the sandwich. Some toast, a light mayo, some greens a careful choice of cheese and thick slices of Mortgage Lifter with a tad of white pepper sprinkled on it: delicious. If I use it in a BLT I take about a ½ strip of turkey bacon and finely chop it and sprinkle it on the slices of tomato as a flavor enhancer and just let this precious jewel shine.
Carbon. I am still trying to figure out what all the buzz is about this tomato. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good black tomato, it is fine all around workhorse I am just missing what it does particularly well. It is later than Black Giant, rather more mild in flavor than Paul Robeson, not as pretty and less prolific. It is drier than Paul Robeson, but so is a glass of water. I suppose if you like mild (read that as bland) with some tones of complexity and with low acid in a black this might fit the bill, for example is you really like watercress sandwiches and don’t want something that will overpower the water cress. I’ll grow this till I run out of seed, to give it a fair chance (I have gown it for 6 years now)but unless it somehow improves this is one I am happy to forget.
the fluffy one