Hey Fellow Gardeners,
It's just about to be June, which means it's high time you got those tomatoes in the ground! (if you haven't already). Tomatoes are among the MOST beloved vegetables (and, yes, fruits) for many gardeners. Everyone seems to have their dearly held opinions, secrets, methods, and madnesses about these mysterious and wonderful treasures.
I wouldn't call myself a tomato fanatic, but I do look forward as expectantly as anyone to the first tomatoes, and feel a certain sadness when the first Fall rains turn them to mush. But I always aim to have enough canned, frozen, and dried to carry me through the darkest winter hours.
To honor the tomato today (this hottest day of the year!) I thought I would share 5 of my very most favorite tomato varieties. Most of these are available locally, though you may have to do some exploring to find all of them. This is a list that has been painstakingly whittled down for your enjoyment.
Sungold: I know I'm not the only one out there for whom this delectable cherry tomato is a favorite. With its immense yields, unmatched sweetness, precocious fruiting, and stunning orange color at ripeness, Sungold is my number one Cherry tomato. If you are late in planting your tomatoes, Cherry types are a must as they are the earliest to produce. No one wants to be waiting around for tomatoes while their neighbors are feasting. Sungold won't let you down.
Stupice: If you are looking for another early to bare and highly productive tomato with more broad appeal in the kitchen, look no further. Stupice is an heirloom of Czechoslovakian descent. Small round red fruits produce early and often and carry incredible density of flavor and sweetness. My very favorite thing to do with Stupice is to toss halved fruits with olive oil, sea salt, and chopped fresh herbs and slow roast in the oven until they condense. As such, they are excellent over pasta, on crostinis, or packed in gallon freezer bags and frozen for an instant taste of summer many months later!!
Blush: Blush is a relative newcomer on the tomato block, and while I love a late summer heirloom, this newer variety has a special place in my heart. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to taste these tomatoes before they were released publicly at the farm of tomato breeder Fred Hempel in Sunol, California. I was won over immediately by a tomato with incredible texture, and the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. It doesn't hurt that the fruits are stunning with a golden base layer and a fiery "blush" of red-orange on small oval shaped fruits. Find them, grow them, love them. ...You will.
Anna Russian: Heirloom tomatoes are extraordinary, and there are good reasons why they that have withstood the test of time are still here making us swoon. Anna Russian is one of my very favorite heirlooms. It's meaty pink heart shaped fruits are delicate, tender, and sweet, and like all of the best heirlooms, they are at their very finest when harvested within a stones throw of a cutting board and some fine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. This variety has an interesting story that is both close to and far from home for Oregonians. To read more about Anna Russian and its journey from Russia to Oregon and back out into the world, check out this article.
Cherokee Purple: Cherokee Purple was perhaps my first tomato love. It seems to follow me on my winding journey through farms and gardens and blogs too, I guess. It is a true heirloom, dating back to the 1890's. It bears large burgundy fruits that retain a purple green hue close to the stem. Flesh is notably dark, dense, and sweet. It is among the most classicly beautiful (and delicious) heirloom tomatoes. My garden would just feel incomplete without it!!
So there you have it. I have born my tomato soul for all to see. And how could I not share? These are the tomatoes that have sustained me for years and years and I can only hope that they bring each of you as much joy as they have brought to me.
Now get to it! Round up some tomato starts and put them in the ground before this heat wave subsides!