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Let's talk about tomatoes

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Since it is peak tomato season here in the U.S., I am trying new varieties, like Black Prince and Asian Pear. (thanks Gooseberry)

I love fresh tomatoes in salsas, sauces, salads, on sandwiches, or fried (green ones, that is). I am crazy loco for Butter Chicken sauce, or Chicken Tikka Masala sauce (is the only difference the butter?)

I was wondering:

a. which tomato varieties do you like for which foods/purposes?

b. whether you'd actually prefer canned tomatoes for certain purposes?

c. are San Marzano tomatoes in a can better than fresh tomatoes? (the reason I ask is that some people seem to worship them!)

d. how do you like to prepare tomatoes? favorite sauces, cheese combinations, herbs?

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  1. I just came in from the garden with my first arm full of tomatoes. Sliced tomatoe, parm cheese & black olive omlette fro breakfast.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Passadumkeg

      Does that mean that tomatoes don't ripen until late August in Maine?

      1. re: FoodFuser

        Tough summer, wet & cold. I was worried we would get no red tomatoes. Our growing season, traditionally is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Chance of frost, earlier or later. One year we gt up to go to school and saw our tomato patch covered w/ snow. Lots of tomato sauce that year. Bumper year for cabbages and acorn squash, though. Potatoes drowned and rotted in the ground. :0(

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          We have been having the same issues in Montreal. We have not had enough heat and sun to ripen our rooftop tomatoes (where they are about as exposed to sun as you can get!) some of our tomatoes are rotting before completely ripening. We got one big harvest, well, big enough to make a tomato salad for 5 people. It was marvelous! But since then, only a few tomatoes get ripe at a time. Our roof top radishes were terrible this year, and our swiss chard is spindly. Oh well.

          1. re: moh

            I have cherry tomatoes in containers on my deck (SE facing, full sun) and they only started ripening mid-August here in Calgary and I'm still getting new ones now... one plant showed green fruit 2 weeks ago and those are just ripening now. Temps this week have been +4C at night and +15/17 highs... and not a whole lot of sun. I count myself lucky though, Kananaskis (about 40 min west) has already seen snow. :)

            1. re: maplesugar

              Hope the snow holds off Maplesugar!

              Small disaster here- our brandywines are suffering from blossom-end rot :( We can salvage the odd tomato, but many are falling victim to this scourge...

            2. re: moh

              Opposite problem in Houston. I planted in containers early August, facing south, and lost some blooms from too much heat, but fruit has been setting last 10 days. The hurricane and a cool front cooled things off. These are on my patio, had a good summer crop planted in March. These are my first attempts at growing on a patio since I sold the house, always had a big veggie garden, corn, green beans, potatoes, onion, okra, tomatoes. The only thing I miss from that house is my garden.

              1. re: James Cristinian

                Planting containers in August???? Aghh! There is major envy happening here, we are settling down for a long hard winter, no nice tomatoes for another year... hope your harvest goes well!

            3. re: Passadumkeg

              I envy the cabbages . Here in Oklahoma we get great tomatoes/peppers/eggplant during a long season, but cabbages are a race against the summer heat.

              As Robert Frost almost said in "Birches": "One can do worse than be a slinger and canner of frost-killed tomatoes".

              1. re: FoodFuser

                As a kid I was "a swinger of birches". We now have 14 big ones in our front yard. I also took the road less traveled and when kayaking in fog think of Sandberg's fog on cat's paws.
                We also have a root section in the garden w/ lots of beats, turnips, kohlrabi and rutabagas. Leeks, we bank and live till 10 degrees and harvest for Thanksgiving.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Enjoyed this!

            4. re: FoodFuser

              In northern climates it is important for plants to be established in May, because they will advance rapidly until mid July wen they settle into maturity. A spurt unlike anything further S., because there are more lumens per day in early summer.

              1. re: FoodFuser

                I live in Iowa, and it was a late year for tomatoes, though not quite as late as Passa's. All the rain and odd weather. Everything seems to be ripening late this year. The apples are just starting to get sweet. The peaches are done, unfortunately :(

            5. a. I don't know anything about varieties of tomatoes. I just look for local and in season if possible. We get very good ones in south east England. I usually find that the baby plum tomatoes we get (often from Italy) are wonderful.

              b. I do prefer canned tomatoes much of the time for my pasta sauces. They often have more flavor than fresh, particularly if fresh are out of season.

              c. I don't have enough experience with San Marzanos to give a definitive answer. The ones I have eaten have been very good, but I've had other canned tomatoes that were equally good. Otherwise, same answer as b.

              d. good fresh tomatoes are wonderful with very little done to them. A bit of olive oil, salt, and a piece of bread are perfect accompaniements. I also think they go really well with hummous. Sometimes I make a fresh tomato sauce if I need to use up a bunch of really good fresh tomatoes. Chop them up, add a tiny bit of garlic, some oil, salt, pepper or chilli, parsley or basil. Toss with warm pasta.

              1. Alkapal:

                "b. whether you'd actually prefer canned tomatoes for certain purposes?"

                A BLT in February, with a canned whole tomato that has been seeded and unfolded flat, twixt the baco' and the mayo: heaven in winter.

                2 Replies
                1. re: FoodFuser

                  foodfuser, that's a tip i'm gonna tuck into my hat. thanks! favorite brand?

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Home canned "Better Boy" variety. John Muir for storebought.

                2. d. how do you like to prepare tomatoes? favorite sauces, cheese combinations, herbs?

                  Tomatoes and scrambled eggs.
                  This to me is like the Chinese equivalent of American Mac N Cheese.

                  1. How are tomatoes and scrambled eggs "Chinese"? Scrambled eggs aren't exclusively Chinese and tomatoes aren't exclusively Chinese -- in fact, they originated in the Americas so they aren't "authentic" Chinese at all! [note tongue firmly planted in cheek]

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Never said tomatoes and scrambled eggs were Chinese. Merely that that dish is the Chinese equivalent of what most American consider Mac N Cheese to be -- i.e., basic comfort food.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Now I'm really confused! How can it be the "Chinese equivalent" of something if it's not Chinese? Why are you specifying that it's "Chinese comfort food" rather than just "comfort food"?

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Despite the ingredients being of non-Chinese origin, the dish is popular enough in China to be considered "comfort food" by many Chinese folks. The designation "Chinese" refers to the people who like that dish and NOT the ingredients themselves.

                          It's the equivalent of saying that mac 'n cheese is "American comfort food." The macaroni and cheese are both not American in origin, and I'm sure other places in the world have this dish. But the dish is popular enough in the U.S. to the extent that it is identified as a distinctly "American comfort food."

                    2. Ak: you have opened a can of worms and Pandora's box is full of tomatoes...
                      I have been growing six to twelve kinds on a regular basis for four years, since I hae been in the New Haven, CT area. Talk about a PIA. They get going good, set fruit and then everything seems to hit them due to the wet weather and damp, cool nights. I've had plenty of tomatoes but they seem to come all at once and then the plants wither and die.My brandywine is totally shot! My Black Prince is barely alive. My Abraham Lincolns are barely alive...
                      When I say can of worms, people's opinions of what constitutes a good tomato varies wildly.
                      I've found the black prince to be very mild and not acidic enough for me. The brandywine is a perfect salad tomato with a little acidity and sweetness. Stupice has done well for me and has some acidity, so is perfect raw or cooked.
                      As far as comparing san marzano canned tomatoes to fresh I think fresh is better.
                      Again, it will depend on what you are using. To me, my medium-sized Burpee tomatoes have made some great sauce. I usually add garlic and basil to any that I cook and I put it in freezer bags. Sometimes I "shoot the works" with red wine, red pepper flakes, oregano, etc.
                      I like chopped cherry, and large cherry tomatoes, with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (perhaps because they are sweeter).
                      Don't get me started or I'll sound like Forrest Gump....

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Scargod

                        It's all your fault. You left them all alone and went on vacation and they knew it; withered away and died of tired of being left all alone. I have, as you know Buddah serenly staring at my tomato patch. And when the weather is cold and dreary, I sing the 4th movement to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and they smile and turn red with embarrassment.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Well somebody or something, obviously, had to. Veggie abuse!

                          Harp

                        2. re: Scargod

                          I think varieties are very location-specific. But man was this a year for hybrids! Celebrity, Bonnie Best etc. came through, else we'd have few tomatoes worth eating. Hail on top of all the other problems. I do prefer plum/paste tomatoes for sauce, less work. Canned are superior for pretty much everything, out of season. I drain them very well and make salsa, for example.

                        3. I prefer Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes when I'm eating a tomato sandwich--very meaty with almost no seeds. Box Car Willie are good, all-around tomatoes. Brandywine (Sudduth strain) is probably the best in terms of balancing sweetness and acidity. Brandywine (Platfoot strain) was very smooth in flavor. Cherokee Purple has a deep, almost smoky flavor. Burbanks were OK, but not spectacular. Yellow Pears are mealy--don't like them at all. Red and yellow currants, while not true tomatoes, are exceptionally flavorful--a bit on the acidic side. Black Krims were disappointing--lacked strong flavor.

                          I use canned tomatoes whenever I don't have fresh grown ones. It seems that the canned ones often taste better than the store-bought "fresh" ones.

                          I like tomatoes straight, in sandwiches, stir-fried with beef, in stews, and with green eggs and ham. :-)

                          1. Cherokee Purple for distinctive flavor. Reif Red Heart for sandwiches. Sun Gold for just popping one in your mouth.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DonShirer

                              Darn, I miss cherokee purples. They are wonderful. We are trying to grow Brandywines, but they take longer to ripen than other varieties, so we are struggling to get them ripe and ready. I've had one, and boy, it is delicious! Expensive if you calculate how much we've spent on gardening for 1 tomato, but perhaps worth it.

                              Green Zebras are so pretty in a tomato salad. We have also been enjoying Tigerellas, they are cherry tomato sized red tomatoes streaked with yellow and green. The Tigerellas are beautiful to look at, and have a wild, funky, feral, rich tomato flavour that explodes like a ray of sunshine in your mouth. And they ripen quickly! I really love them. The plants we have also seem to be high yield. It is a win-win with these beauties.

                            2. Another vote for Cherokee Purples here--meaty with a nice balance of sweet and acid. Brandywines a close second. With respect to more common hybrids, I like Best Boys, especially the ones from my dad's garden. In the Low Country, you can harvest tomatoes from May to November, more or less. A great place for tomato lovers!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Low Country Jon

                                low country jon, when do they harvest peanuts there? i am trying to find a good source for fresh, green peanuts to boil.

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  We are in the middle of the green peanut season now. It runs through the end of September, I believe. I'll keep my eyes open for a good source. Are you looking for mail order?

                                  1. re: Low Country Jon

                                    yes! thanks. i got some incredible boiled peanuts last year near bell's crossing, just west of walterboro. huge peanuts! a place the lady at the cafe called "mitchell's", but there was no sign....

                              2. We haven't figured out how to grow tomatoes in our garden in Mexico yet. Next year I'm going to start them in January and set them out in February. If I wait until summer, they drown during the rainy season.
                                In our Denver garden we used to grow brandywines, sweet 100's and yellow cherry tomatoes. One year at the Botanic Garden sale I bought a little tomato called spoon. Sixteen mature tomatoes fit in a tablespoon. I used to make a tomato salad with the spoon tomatoes and the yellow cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, torn basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
                                One of my fondest food memories is two of my granddaughters at ages 4 & 5 getting inside one of my tomato teepees and sitting there eating fresh little tomatoes off the vine.
                                I like canned, fire-roasted tomatoes for sauces.

                                1. I have a black thumb so my fresh summer tomatoes come from the farmer's market. I have fallen in love with Juliet tomatoes. I love them in caprese salad. I also slice them in half lengthwise, top them with a slices of fresh mozz and bake them in the toaster oven. I have had some great varieties of tiny tomatoes this summer. Black pearls and pink grapefruit come to mind.

                                  I usually make my tomato sauce from canned tomatoes for two reasons. Number one, it is VERY expensive to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. Number two, fresh tomatoes are too irresistable- they never make it to sauce. I do use fresh tomatoes in pasta preparations but usually chopped and sauteed in olive oil with some other key ingredients.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: amethiste

                                    Huh, grew Juliet one year and though they were lovely and perfect looking, they didn't taste like much. Maybe they do better further south.

                                  2. I discovered a new favorite this year: Chianti Rose, supposed to be a cross of Brandywine and an unnamed Italian tomato. It's a big beefsteak type, thin skin, little juice, great for eating out of hand or slicing for sandwiches. I also grew Early Girl and Beefmaster. EG was not any earlier than CR (I'm in San Diego), with a tough skin. Beefmaster was OK.

                                    We had salads, pizza margherita, sauce, burgers, but didn't have enough to can.

                                    1. I found an heirloom variety this year called "Mr. Stripey". They are striped red and yellow. Delicoius but not a great producer. The "Rutgers" plant gave up a lot more tomatoes but the skin was a tad tough.

                                      I love to prepare them the old fashioned ways---on a white bread sandwich with mayo, salt and pepper and as an Ensalada Caprese with fresh buffalo mozzarella. I think keeping it simple is usually best. Let the tomato itself shine.

                                      I always use canned tomatoes for making sauces. It's easier and yeilds fairly similar results.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: diablo

                                        Note that there are two very different varieties both called Mr. Stripey. The original was a British bred small (1.5") tomato with a heavier skin prone to cracking with gold stripes radiating from the top with an agressive tart flavor. This one is also called Tigerella.

                                        An american breeder later introduced another Mr. S., a larger bicolor beefsteak, gold with red blush spreading from the bottom, which has a sweeter, but many folk say not outstanding, taste. Is yours this one?

                                        I second your KIS philosophy.

                                        1. re: DonShirer

                                          Sorry it took so long for me to reply Don, but I was unable to access my chow. Mine is the second type, but I think the flavor is fabulous!

                                        2. re: diablo

                                          I think fresh plum tomatoes make superior *quick-cooked* sauce. I wouldn't use them for long-cooked.

                                          1. re: Aromatherapy

                                            You are probably right, but I always make the long cooked sauces. Plus, most recpies for sauces that I have read using fresh toms call for removing the skins before proceeding with the recipe, and, as I've mentioned on many other posts on this site, I am inherently lazy :).

                                        3. Some random thoughts...

                                          I've grown San Marzano's for many years and have bought them canned for even more.
                                          IMO, my home growns are superior to any of the best DOP grown canned ones. I don't buy into the mantra that if their not grown in the volcanic soil of the Vesuvius area that they're inherently inferior. At least not in my personal observations and experience.

                                          I used to grow Early Girls like a lot of newbie gardners but quickly came to the realization that early they were but good girls? Uh, no. Bland girls would be more like it. Fourth of July's have more flavor and, moreover, produce throughout the entire growing season.

                                          Sweet 100's, Sweet Chelsea's and Sweet Millions are all very sweet, duh, and are the most popular cherry tomatoes in gardens across America but lost any space in mine after my first year of growing Gardner's Delight. They have, again IMO, more real tomato taste than any of them. Beside being a bit larger they also have a more modulated growth rate and over a longer season. They may also be my favorite tomato, period. But the down side of that is I never seem to be able to get enough of them, in any quantity, into the kitchen without devouring most of them enroute.

                                          As a lot of people have voiced further North on this post, Brandywine's are our favorite all-around tomatoes in the Summer kitchen.

                                          Harp

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Harp00n

                                            Oops, I forgot to add my Gardner's Delight porn photo :-0)

                                             
                                            1. re: Harp00n

                                              harpoon, those are picture perfect!

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                Thank you very much for the comment, alkapal.

                                              2. re: Harp00n

                                                My cherry tomatoes from 2006.

                                                 
                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  Yup, those are some beautiful babes as well.
                                                  We're just a couple of New Millenium males flashing pics of hot tomatoes.
                                                  With these, who needs any old Snap-on Tool calendars?

                                                  Harp
                                                  :-0)

                                              3. re: Harp00n

                                                I suppose the Claypit Hill area might have some similarity to the terroir of certain areas of Vesuvius...No ?

                                              4. After running taste tests, my favorite is home-grown Early Girls. In the off-season, there's not much choice for fresh tomatoes but the green-picked store tomatoes (which I avoid for everything but hamburgers).

                                                For cooked dishes, canned tomatoes are as good as and probably better.

                                                1. hey Alkapal -

                                                  somehow missed this discussion!
                                                  As you know from other boards, I was very impressed with the black princes in the past summer.

                                                  I would like to learn more about beefsteaks and oxhearts (makes me sound very carnivorous!).

                                                  Earl of Edgecomb and Kellogg's Breakfast get rave reviews for yellow-orange varieties. Nice and meaty! I also read that radiator charlie's mortgage lifter is delicious.

                                                  Any recommendations of oxhearts? I just love that shape...

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Gooseberry

                                                    I'm in Connecticut, just above New Haven. My black princes came all at once and then the plant basically died. I was left with many fruit on the vines and they were mostly ripe on the bottom and still green on top. They were pear shaped buy slightly smaller. I was not impressed with the flavor. Is this not normal? They were quite dark on the lower half... This is the first time I have tried them.

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      Hi Scargod, I often wonder when it comes to growing your own tomatoes how much of a difference different seed sources make. For example, your black princes sound nothing like my black princes, which were round and big, and dark on the top half! Mine also was incredibly hardy, surviving into the middle of winter, still cheerfully bearing fruit. I wonder if we put one of my tomatoes and your tomatoes side by side and tasted them, would they even seem related? A generation is a short time period for a tomato, after all, and perhaps they are both descendants of the same original fruit, but natural (and human) selection has changed their characteristics the further down the family tree they got. Which makes me wonder how useful it is for me to say - try black prince! if you might be trying a very different tomato from the one I envisaged.

                                                      Strangely, I also tried paul robeson, and found the flavour ok, but not superb like everyone else says they taste. I guess a big part of it is luck.

                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                        Much the same experience BUT this year was just awful for most of my heirlooms. Black Prince is one of my favorites and I'll stick with it.

                                                    2. We live on the So. Or. coast and grow our tomatoes in greenhouses. I start the seeds in Jan or Feb and usually have ripe tomatoes by June, however this year they weren't ripe until early Aug. Strange weather this year. Our favorite is SunSugar, tastes like Sun Gold but does not crack. We also grow Small Fry & SugarSnack cherries and Celebrity for a slicing tomato. We have tried all kind over the years but these are our tried & true producers that taste good.. When we get more than we can consume we invite friends over to pick. My favorite recipes: lots of salsa, tomato, cucumber (I grow those also) & onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sliced with mayo on toasted sour dough bread. Picture is of this years cherries.

                                                       
                                                      1. i'm loving the photos, you green-thumb hounds!

                                                        1. Here in the Central Coast of California where we have foggy days in July, my tomatoes are just coming in. I dry-farm the early girls, so they are bursting with flavor (no water after they flower). The cherry sun-golds are candy; they grow as a vine on my front porch. Pineapple tomatoes are coming in and they are low-acid with enormous taste. I've always liked purple cherokee, brandywine and stupice.

                                                          But all depends on the micro-climate.

                                                          Last year I planted Juliets and had so many that I blanched and froze 1/2 pint bags of them with fresh basil and had enough for sauces that they lasted until summer started.

                                                          What is worshipped in my home are slow-roasted tomatoes...cut in half around the "waist" of the tomato. Use a grapefruit knife to pull out the seeds (I save these for broth, etc.). Lay the halves on a baking sheet, open side up. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, kosher salt, thyme (I use fresh), and top with a bit of olive oil. Roast them for about 3 hours in a 275° oven until they are carmelized, but not burnt. In our family, they usually are gobbled up within minutes, but when some survive we use them sliced with pasta or in sandwiches or processed as a dip with cream cheese or sour cream.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Discerning1

                                                            have you tried hawaiian pineapple tomatoes? I'm growing them this season on the strength of two tomatoes eaten at the Berkeley Farmer's Market. Like you said, enormous taste.Not sure how they taste/look different from normal pineapple tomatoes.

                                                            I love the description of your slow roast tomatoes. I tend to get impatient and speed up the process in a slightly hotter oven. This is a good reminder not to rush.

                                                          2. Here in Toronto, we have to suffer through what I used to call "February" tomatoes for increasingly longer periods each year - hard, barely ripe fruit that seems bred more for the rigours of transport than more pedestrian concerns like flavour. In recent years, some stores offer "tomatoes on the vine" which have a better texture and taste, although still nothing like something just out of the garden.

                                                            For cooking, I usually use tinned, but if Romas are available at a good price (and appear fresh), I will use them - they have a great meaty texture.

                                                            I love cooking with tomatoes - whether it's a pasta, sauce, stew, or chili (yes, I throw tomatoes in my chili; purists can sue). I also love them on sandwiches, from burgers to clubs to subs. But nothing - nothing, I tells ya - beats a toasted tomato sandwich with a little mayo and fresh cracked pepper using a tomato that's warm from the sun and two minutes from the garden.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: KevinB

                                                              Hehe. I always put tomato in my ragu bolognese... which purists will point out is no longer bolognese by definition. Tastes good, whatever the name.

                                                              There's a whole other discussion on tomato sandwiches on this board (which inspired alkapal to start this discussion), but I'll ask here anyway - what bread for the tomato sandwiches?

                                                              1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                Surprisingly (well, maybe not..), this is one case where I prefer bland Wonder-type bread. The smear of mayo is there mostly to hold the fresh pepper in place, and I don't want anything to else to interfere with the fresh tomato taste.

                                                                On the other hand, if I'm using tomatoes from the grocery, which typically have less flavour, I'll add lettuce (and maybe bacon), and I'll use a heartier bread, like a 12-grain or prairie bran. Here in Canada, we have a line of breads called "Country Harvest" that feature varieties such as Oat Bran, Flaxseed, Oat and Honey, etc. They are all very dense and tasty, but they'd interfere with fresh tomato taste.

                                                                1. re: KevinB

                                                                  I've given up on tomato sandwiches with sub-par supermarket specimens. Just always tasted mediocre.

                                                                  I'm with you on the mayo; I find butter a bit too rich and 'greasy'.

                                                            2. I'm going to throw in my favorite variety that I haven't seen mentioned here: Bradley. Bradley tomatoes are medium-sized and are the best for a BLT (minus the L for me) IMHO. I also like Better Boy and Big Boy. I admit that my favorite way to eat a tomato (besides the aforementioned BLT) is just bring it in slice it, put a little salt on it and eat while it is still warm from the sunshine. Cherry tomatoes I stand out in the yard and eat. I always plant Roma for my pasta dishes.

                                                              I love hearing all of these names. Some I've heard of, some not. Abraham Lincoln? Black Prince? What great names.

                                                              Someone mentioned Early Girls. I never had any luck with them or Pink Girls. I guess the "girl" plants don't like me.

                                                              1. a. varieties:
                                                                another shout out for Cherokee Purples; my favorite eating tomatoes (thin skinned, too, with lovely texture). This is my "slice and eat with fingers over the sink" treat.
                                                                Another snack variety: sungolds; small round gold and sweet! A bowl of these gets placed on the table and disappears faster than chocolate.
                                                                Nyagous (sp?) for non-cream based soups because of its high acid, almost spicy quality, juiciness, and easy-peel thick skin

                                                                b. I prefer canned tomatoes if the only "fresh" ones around come from hundreds of miles away (or I have to make a sauce really fast)

                                                                d. preparation for really good tomatoes: in the summer the classic caprese; or, (this will sound terrible, but it's amazingly good) heated olive oil, throw in cherry-size tomatoes until carmelized and splitting (just a minute or so) and dressed with chopped parsley (you can add blanched or roasted green beans, too, for a more substantial salad); raw; cut into thick slices, placed on white bread slathered with mayo and one fried egg.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: oryza

                                                                  have you ever tried cherokee chocolate? I'm told it's a kissing cousin of cherokee purple, and I'm growing them based on the name (anything chocolate is winner in my house). I've heard such lovely things about cherokee purples, I'm hoping the chocolates will be just as lovely...

                                                                  1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                    never heard of it! I will keep my eyes peeled for it...

                                                                    mmmm.... how can a fresh tomato in season not be lovely? I believe there are tomatoes in heaven, too...

                                                                  2. re: oryza

                                                                    I'm going to try to look for the sungolds, This year I bought yellow tomatoes, heard they were low acid (perfect for my dietary needs) and they weren't bad.. but quite different than a regular tomato, basically it lacks some acidity.

                                                                  3. I was thinking about this a little while ago, and how I'm very picky about tomatoes. For some reason I only eat hot house tomatoes raw, I just love how they're firm, kind of orange opposed to all the other tomatoes that are red and deeper red and the skins are so thin and it's easily cut without squishing.
                                                                    I have a lot of issues with tomato skins, I can't tolerate them at all and my throat is sensitive to them.

                                                                    So my rule of thumb is firm hot house tomatoes and the occasional cherry tomatoes for salads.
                                                                    Anything else for cooking, so long as it's blanched and peeled. I like a good flavourful tomato but it has to be peeled.

                                                                    1. This year was my first year in a long time of having enough room to grow as many tomatoes as I wanted plus I lucked out seeing an ad in the farmers bulletin for heirloom tomatoes and peppers. The grower emailed a list with descriptions. I placed my order and picked up on the assigned weekend. Only 50 cents a plant! I didn't have to buy a six-pack. Unfortunately they did not use permanent ink on the plant markers. I had already bought some plants from my neighborhood nursery and planted far too many tomatoes. Two of the plants were San marzano types, one very prolific and one producing very large meaty oval tomatoes. (Grandma Mary's Paste, Hog Heart, Pompeii -extremely prolific) I tried a roasted tomato and jalapeno salsa last week and it was fabulous. Now I wish I had planted more jalapenos. The heirloom peppers were fantastic, very tasty. I don't think I'll bother with Cal Wonders again. I think I had 5 different cherry tomatoes since I eat salad all the time but that was far too many. Black cherry (nice for color but flavor was average), Fox (large red cherry), Isis Candy, Sungella (golf ball size orange - my husband's favorite), Sunsugar (great).
                                                                      This was a rainy summer. The tomatoes next to the house were fine except for some large ones that seems plagued with rot. The plants in the big garden were planted too close together and also suffered from rot. Tomato puree made from an assortment of what was ripe is very sweet with no added sugar, salt or seasonings. Made a really nice pizza. If I hadn't gone for the heirloom tomatoes I would have missed the peppers. I will probably double my pepper patch next year.
                                                                      I originally grew the roma types in hopes of roasting tomatoes for the freezer. I had an airport salad one time with great roasted tomatoes. I have to work on the recipe. Long roasting dried them out too much. Short roasting at high temp made a good roasted tomato but still too juicy. Sure would like to preserve a good taste for winter salads.
                                                                      I eat cherry tomatoes when I walk by, weed, or as I harvest. Chopped cherry tomatoes in my morning omelet are terrific. Unfortunately our DIL hates tomatoes so I don't cook fabulous tomato dishes for our weekly family dinner. Did make her eat a zucchini chili recipe but she had to pick out the tomatos. It was just hot enough to be interesting. Otherwise I have made a variety of tomato soups for the winter and put in the freezer. I didn't want to get out the canning equipment this year. Next week will probably make old standby American Chop Suey, our son's favorite, and let DIL pick out the red chunks.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: dfrostnh

                                                                        I discovered the Isis candy last summer. Despite all the online descriptions of it as 'very sweet', I actually found them very fruity and actually not too sweet, which is unusual but lovely for a cherry. Are yours more fruity or more sweet? I want to know whether it's typical of Isis candy, or if I just lucked out.

                                                                        1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                          Gooseberry, I thought I better double check my tomatos since I can't even find the plant markers. I posted the list of what I had purchased. I found a picture of isis candy with the notable starburst and I don't have that plant in my garden! It appears I have a yellow cherry of some sort that I didn't order. Sorry I can't give you feedback on Isis Candy. I'll have to try it again next year and hope the plant seller does a better job keeping the plants identified. It's a small home greenhouse that simply sells their excess plants on a given weekend.

                                                                          1. re: dfrostnh

                                                                            As someone who grows tomato seedlings to give as gifts, mix-ups certainly do happen.

                                                                            Try Isis Candy if you get a chance - they really are something special.

                                                                            1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                              gooseberry, thanks for inspiring this "bestest tomato thread ever"!

                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                Alkapal, thanks for making it all happen!

                                                                                Just had the first tomato salsa of the season, albeit from bought not homegrown cherry tomatoes (very wintry spring at the moment - my seedlings are still 2 inches high!). So looking forward to more tomato delights as the season progresses...

                                                                                1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                                  And here in southern California, I just bought the vendor's last 4 tomatos at the Farmer's market. Mine gave out a couple of weeks ago (we do have seasons here). I'll be looking for Isis Candy when I order seeds for next year. Have a great summer.

                                                                                  1. re: Leucadian

                                                                                    Still harvesting tomatoes here in California's Monterey Bay. Last week I hollowed out tomatoes and sautéed onions, garlic, fresh thyme, and tomato pulp in olive oil and mixed with steamed bulgar and grated dry jack cheese. Then stuffed the tomatoes with the mixture and baked in a 350° oven til the tops were brown.

                                                                                    1. re: Leucadian

                                                                                      Thanks Leucadian. Good luck with fall...

                                                                        2. I like to make pasta with some premade Barilla tomato sauce and then add my own sauteed fresh tomatoes!

                                                                          Hillary
                                                                          http://chewonthatblog.com