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Aug 19, 2013 12:29 PM

"Beefsteak" Tomatoes/"Field" Tomatoes.

About a week ago, I bought a basket of tomatoes from a Niagara on the Lake vendor that were labelled "Beefsteak Tomatoes". I gave them a few days to fully ripen but was very disappointed once I tried them. They had very little taste, were far from sweet, had little juice and rather coarse, chewy flesh. In other words, I could see no difference between them and the "Field" tomatoes for sale in most supermarkets.

So is no distinction now made between "Beefsteak" and "Field" tomatoes? I do, however, have a memory from some years back of "Beefsteak" tomatoes that were so good that you could quite properly serve them as a first course for dinner - something I'd never do with these Niagara on the Lake "Beefsteak" tomatoes.

So have this type of beefsteak tomato just disappeared? Or is my aging memory just playing tricks with me?

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  1. Always grim to find tasteless tomatoes in Winter never mind summer. I have decided to look into black tomatoes and found the flavour much better than any of the red ones I've been eating for about 65 years. Black Prince, Paul Robeson and Black Krin seeds are available . And you can buy the black tomatoes even in Costco for a short period of time each summer. I'd get on to them for taste alone and they don't look as bad as it seems--usually black and red inside .

    2 Replies
    1. re: Herne

      I think this summer has been less than ideal for producing delicious, juicy tomatoes. I live in Windsor and I know that the cold temps and wet weather in the spring, coupled with the crazy storms and cooler-than-average temps this summer have been murder on some produce. Whether I'm accurate or not, I like to think that hot sunny days lead to lovely tomatoes and other fruits. I was quite shocked at how anemic the first corn of the season was in Windsor. Windsor typically has sensational peaches and cream corn. The cobs I purchased in late July were small, not sweet and it was tough to distinguish the "peaches" from the "cream".

      1. re: 1sweetpea

        Sorry to hear about your corn down there. The Corn Crib in Cottam was my go to place when I lived down there and when I now visit.

        Last year you had good rain and our crop suffered from near drought. This year's crop is superb.

        On another positive note, last year's orchard crops in Grey/Bruce were a total disaster as you may recall - this year is pointing to a bumper crop.

    2. You had a bad batch. Like sweetpea said...there have been some weather issues this year, like inconsistent heat over the past few weeks.

      But...good ones can still be found. Just spent a week on Pelee Island and on the way home picked up some roadside field tomatoes around Kingsville or Leamington. They aren't the best I've had, but definitely turn into a delicious tomato sandwich or salad. Bright red on the inside, juicy flesh and sweet.

      Try before you buy, I guess.

      1. A lot depends on the sub variety of Beefsteak grown. I have grown good flavored tomatoes this year from a cheap generic Beefsteak seed by Mackenzie, Brandon MA, and from a more costly seed, Whopper Improved, but bland results from perfectly formed Earliana.

        Roadside corn and eggs have been good this year. RCSS has had much better corn than the competing markets in my area (Strathroy). The manager of that Loblaw told me he can't get local products; the growers no longer come to him as they did when it was Zehr's.

        1. Maybe try Leamington beeksteaks instead? Niagara fruit is great, but the region isn't really known for its tomatoes, and a few Niagara vendors sell tomatoes grown hydroponically and/or grown elsewhere in ON afaik.
          My homegrown Middlesex County Better Boys have tasted great, although the weather has meant later and fewer tomatoes to date. I'd think good beefsteaks are available commercially, at some farmers' markets and greengrocers. Doris Family Produce at the Covent Garden Market in London usually has great beefsteaks. Haven't bought any in TO.

          1. A Leamington grower I've bought from many a summer told me it was an aesthetic issue. The big, puckery-top tomatoes of yore--the screaming red slightly sweet, acidy flavorful type--get rejected in favor of the smaller, rounder, prettier hot house types. Never mind "heritage" types. She got tired of carting them up to the western GTA markets and not selling them. Hard to find now. Miss 'em.