By: Penny Woodward | March 20, 2015
One of the joys of Autumn is the plethora of tomatoes of different shapes, sizes and colours that are available to taste. I’ve grown five this year, Tommy Toe, Black Russian, Juane Flammee, Indigo Apple (also known as Red and Black ) and an unusual one from a friend, that she got from another friend, that they just call French tomato. Tommy Toe is the prolific small tomato, bite size and perfect for salads with a great flavour and texture. Black Russian is not as prolific but is my favourite for taste. Eaten fresh it is juicy and tart. Jaunne Flamme is bright yellow orange, bigger than Tommy Toe with also a tart and delicious flavour while Indigo Apple is beautiful (it starts bright purple and then changes to black/purple and green, and then black and red when ripe) and delicious. The French tomato grows in a weird elongated teardrop shape, it is pinky red and good raw but fabulous cooked.
I’ve really enjoyed growing and tasting all these different cultivars but there are many more around and now is the perfect time to try some and work out what you might like to grow next year. Check with friends and neighbours, see what they have and see if they would be prepared to swap so you can do your own taste test. If you are eating out ask what the tomatoes are in your salad, or visit your local community garden and see what they are growing.
I was lucky the other day to get the chance to taste some new cultivars being grown at Diggers. Ranging in colour from green through orange, to orange and pink or red they were a lively bunch with names like Blush, Bumble Bee and Tiger, Blue Berry and Sunrise. They are bite sized, sweet and delicious. Perfect for lunch boxes and decorative salads with evocative names and stripy green/red/pink/purple/black skins these are well worth looking out for next year. My favourites were Green Tiger and Pink Bumble Bee. These modern, open pollinated heirlooms had a little of the tartness that I really like, combined with a delicious sweetness and juicy texture.
Around the country throughout March, Italian home-growers are celebrating tomato day, a gathering of family and friends to preserve the season's tomato harvest and make passata. Click here to listen to Gardening Australia's Tino Carnevale talk about the Carnevale's annual tomato day on 963 ABC Radio Hobart.