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Heirloom tomatoes


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I love the brown Paul Robeson tomato and the red pleated varieites I can buy in Mexico.

There is another that a friend is growing for us in Canada. Teeny tiny wild tomatoes from our other friend's cactus patch in Oaxaca. This powerful little tomato is killer in a roasted salsa - can hardly wait until they are ripe.

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if you have a large supply and your losing counter space to these buggers, you gotta do something...

"Buggers"? You're lucky to have a garden overflowing with tomatos. I could (and do) eat tomatos every day.

My current fave is sliced and served on a half-slice of bread or crisp bread with an anchovy draped across. Some pepper, too.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I beg to differ as tomatos came from the new world.

most, if not all of the breeds that you know under the confusing name "heirloom tomato" have been "developed" in europe... ;-)

cheers

That is absolutely not true. There are some, even many, developed in Europe. But there are plenty, if not most that I'm interested in, that were developed in the Americas.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I beg to differ as tomatos came from the new world.

most, if not all of the breeds that you know under the confusing name "heirloom tomato" have been "developed" in europe... ;-)

cheers

That is absolutely not true. There are some, even many, developed in Europe. But there are plenty, if not most that I'm interested in, that were developed in the Americas.

You go, Gordo.

:laugh:

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yes, finally, tomato season has arrived in northern climates! When field tomatoes arrive in my local farmers market--only in the past two weeks--it's hard not to buy too many and so I end up eating them almost every day. I've never had enough to cook with, there are so many other ways to enjoy them, the simpler the better. current favorites:

- simplest: squeeze of fresh lemon juice, S&P, evoo

- more substantial: cut in chunks, tossed with blanched and cooled green beans, crumbled feta, fresh basil, evoo, lemon juice, ground pepper

this year's favorite heirloom: green zebras. last years: brandywines. Yours??


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today the longest queue at the farmer's market was for a tomato stall, well, I had to satisfy my curiousity, joined the line, stood in the sun and waited (im)patiently.

when we got to the top my husband taste tested a couple of cherry toms and baby plums, his verdict "best tomatoes ever"

ok, had to buy some and now, they're sitting in the diningroom smelling delicious, only thing is what I really want to do with them is continue to sit and sniff them.

I want to do something that wont muddy that gorgeous flavour... mozzarella, basil, tomatoes just sliced on a plate is the current winner for tommorow's lunch.

though, a fresh, chilled tomato soup might be good too, or indeed a blt.. argh, decisions :raz:

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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Two weeks ago - Uncooked pasta sauce with garlic, basil, parmesan chopped up in

a food processor and then chunks of fresh mozzarella added. When it hits the pasta

the mozzarella semi-melts.

Last week - tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices and sliced basil w/ EVOO and

lemon juice.

This week - gazpacho - although the flavor of the tomatos may have been muddied

by using a commercial tomato juice + water for the broth

The coming week - still thinking about it. :smile:

David

Edited by David94928 (log)
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This new heirloom strain has just matured, and it looks insane! Like no other I have seen, no idea about the name...gonna take a pic or two and post later...stay tuned.

Oh, and we made a Gazpacho with them last night...oh so tastey. Roasted some salsa peppers as well, threw em in...nice contrast between the smokey hot peppers and the sweet acidic tomatoes.

Pics en route.

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first off there is no such thing as "heirloom tomatoes" 

Oh, please let me think so. It sounds nice.

LOL, ditto.

if you have a large supply and your losing counter space to these buggers, you gotta do something...

"Buggers"? You're lucky to have a garden overflowing with tomatos. I could (and do) eat tomatos every day.

My current fave is sliced and served on a half-slice of bread or crisp bread with an anchovy draped across. Some pepper, too.

I could too, and eating one as a whole piece of fruit is what I often do. ...Leaning over the kitchen sink, of course.

I wish tomatoes grown in Florida were better than they are. Heirloom tomatoes or whatever you want to call them are not easy to find here, even at the farmers' markets.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Another thing that is not widely known is that some "heirloom" indeterminate varieties will keep growing as long as some of the new vines are removed, maintaining constant new growth. Of course this requires a tropical or subtropical climate or sufficient greenhouse room.

One of my friends, who lives in Lemon Grove, just outside of San Diego, has a cherry tomato that has been growing and producing constantly for more than ten years. It started out as a volunteer in a compost container in a southwest facing corner and just kept going. They cut it back a couple of times a year because it is now huge, completely covering a chainlink kennel run and produces buckets of the best cherry tomatoes I have ever tasted. The original vine "trunk" is at least 4 inches in diameter. They have sent samples of the foliage and fruit to Cal Poly Pomona and were told that there are many varieties that have this ability if people would maintain them properly. They were also told that tomatoes of this variety were grown in England and Europe as ornamental plants long before the fruit was consumed.

I love the old varieties and their wonderful flavors.

One of my favorites is the old pink ponderosa with its odd shapes, pink skin and bright red flesh.

They were one of my grandfather's favorites and were huge. His other favorite was the orange Burpee's Jubilee. I can remember following him through the kitchen garden as he sampled various tomatoes. He always carried a little silver salt-shaker in his pocket for just such encounters.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Andie, can you recommend an easy-to-find variety to grown continuously? We have a tomato plant in our garden that has been growing for over a year, but it's realy straggly. A big part of that is it hasn't had the proper care. Now I'm thinking of taking on the project of planting one, and devoting the time and care to keep it going.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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That is absolutely not true. There are some, even many, developed in Europe. But there are plenty, if not most that I'm interested in, that were developed in the Americas.

its absolutely true! name me one "heirloom" variety that has been exclusively cultivated in the americas! they were long known in europe, and eaten since the 1590ties. discovered by spanish conquistadors the tomato was taken back to spain and distributed first to the mediterranean countries, and in the 17 century as far as russia ( where by the way some very yummy breeds originated the "black from tula" for example). when the huge emigrant waves hit the united states the settlers took the seeds with them. i dont say that from this point on there was no more cultivation going on, but i do say that most "heirlooom tomatoes" you can find quite identically in italy or spain or germany or austria or poland or hungary or greece or russia. the same thing is by the way also very true with potatoes ;-)

cheers

t.

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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Andie, can you recommend an easy-to-find variety to grown continuously?  We have a tomato plant in our garden that has been growing for over a year, but it's realy straggly.  A big part of that is it hasn't had the proper care.  Now I'm thinking of taking on the project of planting one, and devoting the time and care to keep it going.

The ones that I know of are the "potato leaf" varieties, which have thicker foliage and larger leaves.

After the plant has a dozen branches you need to start pinching off the new sprouts at the tip to encourage more side growth then when all the branches are about the same length, 4 to 5 feet long, put them on a trellis and pinch off every third new sprout and let it keep growing.

Fertilize it on a regular basis for your area, if you get a lot of rain and have well draining soil you have to fertilize more often.

You do have to keep picking the fruit and will have bigger fruit if your thin them out.

When it begins to slow down production, pick off all the fruit, even the very small ones, pinch back the end growth and fertilize lightly. It should start blooming again within two or three weeks.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Whatever I'm growing, it's always hard for me to pinch off and thin out. But your advice is certainly well taken and I will give it a try. Soon we will be having our fall planting season for tomatoes and all, so I'll start it then. Thanks!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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That is absolutely not true. There are some, even many, developed in Europe. But there are plenty, if not most that I'm interested in, that were developed in the Americas.

its absolutely true! name me one "heirloom" variety that has been exclusively cultivated in the americas! they were long known in europe, and eaten since the 1590ties. discovered by spanish conquistadors the tomato was taken back to spain and distributed first to the mediterranean countries, and in the 17 century as far as russia ( where by the way some very yummy breeds originated the "black from tula" for example). when the huge emigrant waves hit the united states the settlers took the seeds with them. i dont say that from this point on there was no more cultivation going on, but i do say that most "heirlooom tomatoes" you can find quite identically in italy or spain or germany or austria or poland or hungary or greece or russia. the same thing is by the way also very true with potatoes ;-)

cheers

t.

Aren't you the one who said upthread there's no such thing as an heirloom tomato?

Of the top of my head, there's Cherokee Purple, Zapotec Pleated, Punta Banda, Oaxacan Pinks. There are more. Obviously Black from Tula is not on the list.

I can't believe I'm having this conversation.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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And Rancho Gordo left out the heirloom's heirloom: the ojo de venado. From Mexico.

Perhaps after a ducha fria, it would be a lovely idea to peruse J.L. Hudson's seed catalog, and the catalog from the Seed Saver's Exchange. But, prior to that we all might want to check out the meaning of 'heirloom' as it applies to botany. OED is probably a good choice of dictionary. It always helps for us to be on the same page, definition-wise, don't you think???

In Comida y Conquista, edited by Janet Long Towell, are papers presented at a 1994 conference on gastronomy pre/during/ and post Conquest. There is one paper, I believe by Long herself, devoted to the tomato.

I have long operated under the belief that 'heirloom' referred to those plants which were traditionally grown, the seeds of the most desirable examples being saved for the next season's planting. Obviously, as the seeds are carried across an ocean and put into the hands of people fluent in crop care, but ignorant of the item at hand, coupled with different soils, climates, etc, the plant will, over time, change. Some could not adjust. Others did, with the seeds of the at that time and place determined 'best' ones being saved for replanting. Over time and geography different attributes came to the fore.

Now, as for most heirlooms being Old World (I'm striving mightily to be polite here) rather than New World ... I don't know that that claim can seriously be made. Several years ago there was in what I call the 'bellybutton' column of the Wall Street Journal a piece on the Peruvian Potato Seed Bank. Dig that up and read it. It will underscore the fact that the Peruvians, blessed to the bank and back with potato varieties to begin with, developed quite an array of what can only be described as heirloom varities.

I think that the term 'heirloom' as applied to plants has no meaning ... until, that is, seed companies managed to hybridize plants to the point that you have to either buy the highly hybridized seeds or else propagate by by means of vegetative reproduction. The seeds from a supermarket tomato ... or whatever ... might germinate, might grow, might (as in my own experience) produce a tomato ... which drops too early, or fails to mature, or spontaneously aborts for myriad reasons. The term heirloom becomes handy, then, to describe and oppose viable seeds from those which have been hybridized into infertility.

Tomatoes are native to Mexico and Central America. People grow them, save seeds, replant, and the cycle goes on. They don't worry about whether they have heirloom tomatoes. They worry about having tomatoes that are really, truly tomatoes. The rest is pr firm tempest in a teapot.

Heirloom is anything not hybridized to death a/o sequenced and patented by ArcherDanielsMidland. So who has more heirlooms is irrelevant. Perserving the ones we have is.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Of the top of my head, there's Cherokee Purple, Zapotec Pleated, Punta Banda, Oaxacan Pinks. There are more. Obviously Black from Tula is not on the list.

gee i really dont want to be wisenheimer on this but you really should read about the history of the tomato. i wrote that most if not all of the "heirloom" varieties are from europe on way or the other because the wild tomatoes that the spanish sampled from the azteks were grapesized and yellowfleshed. i just read a book about those gardeners who got their hands on the first plant specimens from the new world in the 16 century. i seriously doubt that those varieties that you quoted are cultivated in the americas entirely ;-)

I can't believe I'm having this conversation.

are we getting a little arrogant now ?

cheers

t.

Edited by schneich (log)

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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Now, as for most heirlooms being Old World (I'm striving mightily to be polite here) rather than New World ... I don't know that that claim can seriously be made.  Several years ago there was in what I call the 'bellybutton' column of the Wall Street Journal a piece on the Peruvian Potato Seed Bank.  Dig that up and read it.  It will underscore the fact that the Peruvians,  blessed to the bank and back with potato varieties to begin with, developed quite an array of what can only be described as heirloom varities.

it might very well be that the peruvians have lots and lots of potato varieties ( and i am the first who would like to lay hand on some of them) but like it or not its a fact that the varieties mostly used in the united states today have been elementary cultivated in the "old world" and not in central or south america.

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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Pomme d'amour: I ate the first tomato from our garden yesterday. It was a Canabec (a cultivar partial to our cool spring nights--bred in Quebec as the name suggests).

It was warm from the sun and I ate it like an apple with just some flakes of Maldon salt. I pulled its stem like a grenade and took a deep bite from its plump and heavy flesh and then I sucked at it greedily like a baby at the breast.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

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it might very well be that the peruvians have lots and lots of potato varieties ( and i am the first who would like to lay hand on some of them) but like it or not its a  fact that the varieties mostly used in the united states today have been elementary cultivated in the "old world" and not in central or south america.

You have covered cultivars developed in the US and Europe ... but what do we know about any similar cultivars developed throughout the Americas, Africa, or Asia. Maybe there are none, although that seems quite unlikely. It seems more likely that we turn more quickly to Europe for origins, and then lose curiosity and drop the search there.

Are there any botanists, straight up, ethno, or archaeo out there who might comment on actual heirloom demographics?

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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are we getting a little arrogant now ?

You started out by saying there is no such thing as an heirloom, making it clear that perhaps you don't understand what the term means. Then you asked for names. I supplied them. You ignored them.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer tomatoes whatever their journey.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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To steer the conversation more towards my own personal benefit...

Schneich, how easy is it to find these breeds in your average German wochenmarkt? I can find them readily at even smaller farmer's markets here in the US but I've never noticed them when I've been in Germany in season. Also, when I've served them to visiting German guests they've expressed quite a bit of surprise so they don't seem to be that common?

I've so far only looked in regular weekly markets, not in any of the more famous ones like Viktualienmarkt. This has been one of the few products I have lamented missing when we move to Deutschland, so it would be nice to know I will still be able to buy them. What (as a class, not as individual breeds) are they called in Germany, in case I need to ask?

(Growing them myself is not an option, due to the Geneva conventions on inadverant plant torture, benign neglect and absentminded abuse.)

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Schneich, how easy is it to find these breeds in your average German wochenmarkt? I can find them readily at even smaller  farmer's markets here in the US but I've never noticed them when I've been in Germany in season. Also, when I've served them to visiting German guests they've expressed quite a bit of surprise so they don't seem to be that common?

your absolutely right, thats something that really pisses me off. especially when it comes to fresh produce and meat those farmersmarkets, wholefoods and traderjoes outperform any store in germany easily. it just seems that american customers are far more quality conscious than german customers, one must not forget that only 30 years ago in german haute cuisine restaurants the veggies came out of a can! since about 7 or 8 years pumpkin and squash in many varietes are "a la mode" i can only hope that the same thing will be true for tomatoes, potatoes and other veggies. in an average supermarket you will only get 2 tomato and potato varietes. most of our tomatoes come from the netherlands and go by the nickname waterbomb. :-( i get my tomatoes mostly from an italian specialty store who imports it directly from campania.

by the way where will you move to in germany ??

Edited by schneich (log)

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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Schneich, how easy is it to find these breeds in your average German wochenmarkt? I can find them readily at even smaller  farmer's markets here in the US but I've never noticed them when I've been in Germany in season. Also, when I've served them to visiting German guests they've expressed quite a bit of surprise so they don't seem to be that common?

your absolutely right, thats something that really pisses me off. especially when it comes to fresh produce and meat those farmersmarkets, wholefoods and traderjoes outperform any store in germany easily. it just seems that american customers are far more quality conscious than german customers, one must not forget that only 30 years ago in german haute cuisine restaurants the veggies came out of a can! since about 7 or 8 years pumpkin and squash in many varietes are "a la mode" i can only hope that the same thing will be true for tomatoes, potatoes and other veggies. in an average supermarket you will only get 2 tomato and potato varietes. most of our tomatoes come from the netherlands and go by the nickname waterbomb. :-( i get my tomatoes mostly from an italian specialty store who imports it directly from campania.

by the way where will you move to in germany ??

I think these comments are far too much of an overgeneralization. It depends on which part of the US you are talking about, and which part of Germany.

I lived in the American mid-West for 5 years. There were NO farmers markets, pretty much the only place to buy fruits and vegetables was in supermarkets, and the fruit and veg. were anything but ideal. Fruits were picked so green they would never ripen, many of the vegetables were limp, or even rotting due to the water regularly sprayed onto them in the display. Cucumbers and such like were coated with non-edible wax, meaning that you could never eat one unpeeled. Many of the vegetables were grown until enormous, meaning that they were tasteless, had (in the case of cucumbers for example) large seeds that would have been edible had the vegetable been picked younger, but now had to be scooped out and discarded, and so on. Sometimes there were better fruits and vegetables available, but then they were too expensive for me to afford them on a student budget.

That said, collard greens, okra, and corn were cheap, and were excellent in quality.

When we moved to Germany directly after living in the US, I was in heaven as far as the quality of the produce was concerned. Sure there are lousy Dutch tomatoes that taste of nothing, but right next to them are ones imported from Spain or Italy which are ripe, and have smell and taste. I have never seen heirloom tomatoes in Germany, but to make up for that you can easily choose between about 6 - 8 varieties of green peppers imported from Turkey, Spain, or Hungary (not to mention the red or yellow peppers), a huge variety of lettuces, cabbages and other related greens (if you want to talk about foods which have been grown locally rather than imported), etc.

At the market, the people selling the vegetables were more than ready to give tips on how to prepare certain vegetables. I had never come across black radish before Germany, for example, and was told several ways for preparing them when I asked.

In addition, the prices were/are far more affordable than in the US mid-West.

The above experiences, by the way, were in a much smaller town than where I am living now. Even there, I could easily find NUMEROUS Turkish and Italian-run produce stores with top quality produce. Some of these needed quite a lot of effort in finding their location, but they exist all right.

Now, I am sure that I would feel quite differently about the produce available in the US if I had been living in, for example, California.

So, to return to the topic of tomatoes, I have never yet seen an heirloom tomato for sale in Germany.

For Behemoth, however, I would say that as you are moving from the mid-West to Munich (right?), the quality of produce will probably be a vast improvement, even though the range of what is available will differ. As you are not exactly unacquainted with Germany, I'm sure you already know this. :smile:

But I'd be looking for Turkish grocers rather than supermarkets for most of my fresh produce. (cheaper even than the markets, not to mention cheaper than the supermarkets, as well as fresher, riper fruit, and a wider variety of produce in general).

I haven't been to Munich's Viktualienmarkt. Annoyingly, I was within spitting distance just last week, but was with two elderly relatives from abroad who were unable to walk much, and could not be left alone as they could not find their way about without help. :wacko: I gather, though,that it's very good.

OK, you may now return to the subject of tomatoes... :wink:

Edited by anzu (log)
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