Friday, September 3, 2010

Every year I end up with a mystery tomato in my garden. I'm not referring to the volunteers that pop up here and there thanks to squirrels depositing seeds wherever they fancy. I'm talking about one of the very carefully selected varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I absolutely must have in my garden that season. When I buy seedlings it is with purpose and intent. I take along a list of what I know I want to grow. I read the labels and descriptions of every variety before making selections. I create a chart so I can keep track of how many of each size or color I am putting in. So, how do I always end up arriving back at home with one plant that I cannot identify? It's like losing a sock somewhere between the washer and the dryer - it's just something that happens without explanation!

This year's mystery plant was stuck in a small space in between the artichokes. I wasn't sure it would get enough sun but thought to myself "I don't even know what it is, so a sub-prime location in the garden will be just fine". This plant got off to a slow start. I labelled it "Persimmon ???" because I seemed to recall buying an extra Persimmon after they were such a huge hit last year. When the sun finally appeared the mystery plant became very happy and it now stands 8 feet tall! It is lush and green in spite of the triple degree temperatures we're having - quite different, by the way, from the other persimmons growing in the yard. It produced several fairly large roundish fruit at the bottom. They cracked and rotted before becoming ripe. Toward the top of the plant there are many more large, green fruit waiting to mature in color. Just about at eye level there was one huge triple lobed tomato just waiting to ripen. It's shape was quite different from the others but the color was just the same...medium, soft green with subtle striping from the shoulders in darker green. If I looked very closely I could see just a hint of blush trying to come through. If tomatoes had a "finish" I would have called this matte as opposed to Green Zebra which is more of a semi-gloss. So, I waited and waited for the color to change, thinking it would soon become one of my bi-colored favorites. But as the August temperatures rose I was afraid to leave it on the plant to ripen. In 105 degrees it could have cooked out there. I thought I would bring it inside to ripen on the counter top but when I took it in my hand I realized it felt perfectly ripe. I was shocked as it was still green.

There, on my kitchen counter sat a 1 1/2 pound green tomato that begged to be eaten except for the fact that I wasn't sure if it really was ripe. I waited a day and nothing changed. In my house we make an event out of sampling new varieties and comparing them for flavor and texture. Tomato taste tests have become a tradition. So, we cut in. It was slick and juicy on the inside. Sure enough, the meat inside showed those same hints of blush coloring. Not knowing what to expect I took the first taste, making sure it was safe for the others to eat. All they had to do was to look at my face...It was incredible with a true tomato taste, just slightly sweet to cut the acid and a tiny tingle on the tongue just to remind you that you're eating a tomato.

I don't know what that variety was called and I was so excited that I made sure we ate every last bite of my delicious mystery, completely forgetting to save some seeds. Maybe someone will be able to identify it or maybe it will just have to be known as 'One Hit Wonder".


  1. Great little story - beautiful tomato!

  2. It's beautiful on the inside, too. I'll include a photo when I solve the mystery in tomorrow's post.