Yes, I have some tomato winners! But first let's purge the events of the week, namely canning 70 lbs of tomatoes...
The currant tomatoes were squeezed and dried in the oven at 170º for most of the day. If you have never squeezed your tomatoes before drying, do it! It cuts your time significantly. These were put into pint jars and kept in the fridge or freezer, they will last all winter and are perfect for sun dried tomato hummus or reconstituting and tossing with pasta or on top of pizzas in the winter.
The Romas were all oven roasted, skinned and pressure canned. The Brandywines were stewed and pressure canned. If you are wondering why I pressure can it's because it's easier - less water in the canner is easier to heat up, I have a glass top range... that's why :)
All those tomatoes and they shrunk down to this!
Also pictured above are steam canned pickled jalapeños, the oven dried tomatoes on the left (uncapped so you can see them), and bell pepper strips ready for the freezer. I can steam can the short jars in the pressure canner since I don't need a high water level for the little jars.
Now, lets talk about those tomatoes!
After a few years of trying out different varieties, I am finally ready to "officially" award permanent yearly bed space to 4 varieties of tomato! I can wholeheartedly recommend these for any of my readers that garden in heat, humidity, have had blight issues, and wish to try raised bed gardening without watering.
My specifics: I am in a zone 7b/8 coastal climate with a 7-12 ft deep water table, I garden in raised beds filled with 100% compost that is about 4 years old and rarely fertilize or amend anymore, in short, I'm lazy. Our summer temps average in the 90's with heat indexes common of +100, humidity is a constant companion here in the summer. With that heat and humidity summer thunderstorms are not uncommon, and I have relied solely upon them this year to provide water, although we are in a drought this year it is not as bad as some others are experiencing.
And the Winners are...
The vines were a mess, almost ripped them out due to the yellowing and symptoms of disease that is running rampant in our area, BUT... once these started producing they were unstoppable, several pounds a week of tasty, meaty tomatoes perfect for canning. Skins come off easily.
Nice, medium sized tomato, didn't crack as much as the larger heirlooms. At first I thought they looked a little whitish/mealy (but not as bad as a grocery store tomato!) but the taste rivaled that of my Brandywines so I was sold quickly. That texture makes them easy to slice and not as much to squeeze out as the big heirlooms for canning, almost a roma interior on a larger slicing tomato if that makes sense. Highly resistant to disease in my garden and apparently insects too, since I have only found a few holes here and there, nothing like the massive bites regularly taken out of my big heirlooms.
Of course, the Brandywine
I'm still operating on a 5 year old Baker Creek seed packet, but these are readily available at the usual seed companies we all do business with. I know many have issues getting these to produce many fruit but here they are the bulk of my canning. 4-6 plants of Brandywines will easily give me 100 -200 pounds of tomatoes each weighing between 1-2 lbs. Hands down the most beautiful and tasty tomato for eating plain, and nothing beats a Brandywine sauce chili in the winter! I'm sorry if you are one of the ones who live where these don't do well, but if you are ever in my area I'll load up your trunk :)
These are the little ones in the center of the photo above. One word - awesome! I ordered this one as a fun "something different" impulse buy. These are tiny, blueberry sized bursts of happiness :) We have 2 of these plants and they produce way more than we can consume, so one is plenty for both fresh eating and dried tomatoes to get you through winter. I try to pick these daily and just leave them in a bowl on the counter, we grab handfuls as we walk by to snack on like peanuts. When the bowl starts overflowing I squeeze and dry them in the oven for use in hummus and winter pizzas. The flavor is INTENSE, very tomato-ey. Although they are indeterminate, the leaves are small and these would do well in a container or basket I think, good to have near the door so you can pick them daily for a snack.
Nice tomato crop, we are just starting to get ripe ones here and my main crop which is Roma haven't started yet. I am making hot dog relish today to use up some of the jalapenos, it didn't turn out hot as I took out the seeds, just a nice relish with a hint of heat. We plan on making ketchup when the Romas get ripe.ReplyDelete
Sunnybrook, I always seem to notice my Sept/Oct jalapeños are much hotter than earlier in the season, makes for a surprising salsa if you don't look at the date on the label before eating hahaha!Delete
I've gone from an every-two-days watering schedule to an every-four-days schedule. Baby steps :-)ReplyDelete
Gran, your air is probably much drier than ours so that makes sense to supplement!Delete
Yum! My Brandywines have always turned out well too, and I live in as different a climate from yours as is possible. Personally I think they are the perfect tomato... though I'm always searching for other tomatoes of equivalent excellence.ReplyDelete
AnywhereEden, yep that's the one tomato that has grown every year here, it will be a sad day for me to move somewhere that I'd have to give it up!Delete
I had a Eureka moment a few days ago on WHY this works and it's something I had read about comfrey----and I believe it applies here. Comfrey has a HECK of a root system, delving DEEP into the soil, bringing up TONS of nutrients.ReplyDelete
I've NEVER watered my tomatoes, we NEVER get rain for weeks on end. But yet every year they do fantastic--no diseases to speak of ( I know--no rain=no disease) But the answer to the mystery shows up every fall of why this works........ My roots on my tomatoes are at LEAST 8-10 feet long. I have a heckuva time pulling them out. They stretch all over my garden, quietly growing underneath, trying to find ANY water. I think that's it. When you water, the plant doesn't get HUGE roots---Think this might be it?????
Sue, those were my thoughts exactly, and I can't wait to pull them up this year and see how deep those roots grew! Normally when I water they easily pull out. I'll be able to tell for sure once the hurricanes start rolling through since in a "watered garden" the wind rips them out for me, I bet they will hang on much tighter this year :)Delete
Great tomato photos! I bought the Red Currant Tomato seeds this year, I'm excited to try them. I just need to move into my new home first!ReplyDelete
Crazy, I'm sure you will love those currants - good luck with the new home!Delete
Thanks for sharing your favorite tomatoes with us! After reading about your Brandywine's last year I planted them in our garden this year. We are thrilled with them! The tomatoes really are huge and very, very tasty. I'll remember the other's for next year.ReplyDelete
Anke, yummy ain't they? LOLDelete
Thanks for your wisdom. I hadn't planned on tomatoes this year but I'm a convert, even though I think the blight is catching up with my (very few) plants that I got from a swap. Next year I may take the full plunge.ReplyDelete
Lanette, no tomatoes? You need a spanking LOL... I guess you have plenty of other stuff though so we'll let it slide hahaha!Delete
Great tomato information post! Now, get your little butt up here to Minnesota and figure out what ones will make it so I can grow something other than cherry tomatoes. I want to have my own stewed tomatoes again soooo bad!ReplyDelete
Mama Pea, I'm so bad, I had 3 comments here I never responded to, I'm losing all my brain cells LOL. I am definitely going to have big tomatoes up there even if I have to make them out of craft supplies and glue gun them to blueberry bushes hahahaha!Delete
those branywines look delicious to eat as they are and I defiantly need some of those but not one good eating tomato found yet.if I could fine some ,a delicious tomato sandwich would be in orderReplyDelete
Judy, sorry I never responded here... tomato sandwich YUM!Delete
Your tomatoes look great! Our three tomato plants are spindly and sick looking with only a few tomatoes on the plants. Everything else we planted isn't doing well except for the carrots.ReplyDelete
I've got Brandywine on my list for tomatoes next year. Hopefully I won't lose the list. LOL!
Thank you for sharing with us so much 'tomato' information, but especially how you dry your currant tomatoes. I have not known what to do with our (overly) abundant grape tomato harvest this year, until now. I followed your instructions and dried our first batch last week, then included some of the dried grape tomatoes on our homemade pizza and how delicious! This week will be spent drying more..... and more..... and more.... and anyway, just thought I'd also let you know I linked to your post from my garden post today. http://shadygroveadventures.blogspot.com/2012/08/garden-notes-august-2012_13.htmlReplyDelete
Thank you Erin!
Lisa, oh I'm glad you were able to make them work, they are so nice to have around during the winter! What's funny is that my kids don't really eat tomatoes fresh but will eat a half a pint of those dried tomatoes and I have to say "do you realize you just ate about 2 dozen tomatoes?" hahaha!Delete
Sparkless, I hope they do well for you!ReplyDelete