This is Cherokee Purple in the not-quite-ripe-yet stage. You can see the darker shoulders, which have yet to turn color. I also grew Cherokee Chocolate and Black Krim, but found all of these varieties to be rather bland tasting, and also pretty soft texture wise. I prefer a firmer tomato. In years past, I have also tried Pruden's Purple, which didn't pass the test either.
*** Update: 3-24-09 ***I just read that Black Krim should be harvested before fully ripe, with shoulders still green and before it gets soft, for the best flavor..... so I might have to give it another chance. :-)
Another heirloom variety I tried was Arkansas Traveler, shown here with tiny yellow Signet marigolds. It would probably be in the pink category, as it doesn't get to be a true red. Nothing to get excited over here, taste-wise. One pink variety that I grew for several years that I did like is Caspian Pink, which has a very good taste, but doesn't produce many tomatoes.
I received seed for this heirloom, Nyagous, as an extra in a seed trade. The tomatoes are a smaller size, firm, with black shoulders, and grow in clusters. And the taste is......wonderful! It is both sweet and tangy, with lots of rich flavor. It hails from Russia. I grew it in a 3 gallon container, because I ran out of space. I can't wait to see how it produces with a spot of honor in the garden this year.
I also grew an heirloom Cherry tomato called Ana Asa, looking for something to possibly replace my old standby, hybrid Super Sweet 100 Cherry , but there was no comparison, taste-wise. I seriously don't think there is a sweeter or better tasting cherry than Super Sweet 100, but I am open for suggestions. :-)
Brandy Boy is a new hybrid I tried for the first time last year. It is a cross between Better Boy and Brandywine and is supposed to produce more tomatoes on the plant, but still have that great Brandywine taste. I found it lived up to both of these criteria.
So...what are my Tomato selections for 2009?
Maybe next year I will do more trials, but this summer I intend to keep it simple and grow only the tried and true:
1. Hybrid Goliath, as my main crop tomato. I love everything about this tomato! The taste, the large number of tomatoes it produces and the firm, perfect, blemish free fruit. I have been growing this one for nearly 20 years now. I am not a purist when it comes to Hybrids vs. Heirlooms....nothing can beat some of the Hybrids for production and reliability. As long as the seeds are available, I will grow them. (I am still using seeds from a packet I bought in 1999!)
2. Brandywine - several plants, for the unbeatable taste!
3. Brandy Boy Hybrid - this time side by side with Brandywine to really compare fruit production.
3. Heirloom Pineapple - one plant, for dear husband who really likes this one. The tomatoes grow HUGE, the color a mottled red and yellow combination.
4. Super Sweet 100 Cherry - We eat these like candy....usually standing right there in the garden. These are a big hit with my now 3 year old granddaughter!
5. Nyagous - for the taste and nice salad size.
“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and home grown tomatoes.”
John Denver, 'Home Grown Tomatoes'
(from a song written by Guy Clark)