A table full of ripe tomatoes: ‘Solar Flair,’ ‘Black Krim,’ ‘Beefsteak,’ ‘Purple Tie Dye,’ ‘Black From Tula.’
These may not be the prettiest tomatoes you’ve ever seen, but I can tell you that for the past six weeks, we’ve had a steady supply of ripe tomatoes, most from the plants in our raised beds at Farm in the City. They’ve found their way into salads, BLT sandwiches, gazpacho, panzanella, pasta dishes, fish recipes. They’ve been cooked with okra and onions, tossed into gumbo, and sliced thick to eat with scrambled eggs, on tuna sandwiches and with mozzarella and basil. And they’re still coming.
I wrote here and here about the 2015 Tomato Adventure. My daughter Anna selected eight different types of tomatoes to try this year: ‘Black Krim,’ ‘Black From Tula,’ ‘Black Cherry,’ ‘Solar Flair,’ ‘Blue Berries,’ ‘Blue Beauty,’ ‘Pink Berkeley Tie Dye’ and ‘Purple Bumblebee.’ There was also a packet of ‘Beefsteak’ seeds left from last year. We started seeds at the end of February, set out transplants on April 29 in the community garden beds and in beds at home, and waited for the results.
Little ‘Blue Berries’ and larger ‘Purple Bumblebee.’
Here’s the report so far: My backyard tomato plants grew tall and rangy and produced very few tomatoes. There really is not enough sun back there to grow a healthy crop; plus, once the squirrels discover the green tomatoes, it’s all over. I think I got one good ‘Beefsteak’ off the backyard plants, a ‘Black Krim’ and a ‘Black From Tula,’ a few pretty ‘Solar Flair’ tomatoes and maybe one ‘Blue Beauty’ before the plants gave up.
But things have gone better at Farm in the City. The ‘Black Krims’ have been big and plump (though a little deformed), ‘Black From Tula’ seem to crack more easily, but they’re pretty and round. ‘Beefsteak’ tomatoes are not as large as I had expected, but they’re that bright red-orange that you expect in a tomato.
The most prolific have been the ‘Blue Berries,’ pretty little tomatoes the size of large grapes that grow in clusters, dark blue at the shoulders fading to pink. ‘Purple Bumblebee,’ which somehow missed being planted in (or disappeared from) my garden bed, grows like a weed in Anna’s plot, loaded with cute, golf-ball size striped tomatoes.
What, then, to do with all these tomatoes? I’ve simmered the little ones and pushed them through a sieve, extracting about a quart of juice, which I’ll freeze and use to make tomato vegetable soup later this fall. Some of the larger ones are also headed for the freezer, peeled and cored and ready to use in soup or pasta.
And there are still plenty left to eat fresh, sliced on sandwiches, tossed into salads or cooked into meals.
This year’s tomato adventure continues. What do you do with a table full of ripe tomatoes?