This exotic wonder is rich in flavor, smoky and complex, the way a tomato should taste. It's not bland or overly sweet like those mass-produced for general consumption. Fortunately for those of us who are suckers for novelty, every year fruits and vegetables seem to come in more bewitching colors, shapes and flavors. Our favorite dark tomato and one of our best selling varieties. Joe Brunetti, a horticulturalist with Smithsonian Gardens, prunes Cherokee Purple tomato vines at the American Museum of Natural History Victory Garden. I think to label all Cherokee Purples as “watery” is unfair. In 2015, Seeds of Change, another seed company, made the Cherokee Purple the poster child for its new initiative Save the Flavors, and is giving away free seeds to encourage people to keep heirloom varieties like it going. We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020, Gardeners' Gems: Designer Crops That Will Wow The Neighbors. It’s certainly not the type of tomato you would want to peel and/or can for a sauce. With more than 3,000 varieties, he has one of the largest personal tomato collections in the country. – tastes like one.”. The neighbors said that the varietal had been in their family for 100 years, and that the seeds were originally received from Cherokee Indians. The last time I had Cherokee tomatoes with my friend in the Bay Area, they were a bit on the watery side, but I do believe they were harvested early and hadn’t had a chance to “dry out” or become perfectly ripe fruit. It’s very tasty with what’s usually described as a “tomato-ey” flavor and features a distinctive deep reddish-purple color. A lot of people choose tomatoes for color and Cherokees are a beautiful thing. Check out how smooth the skin is on the greenhouse tomato. Every now and then, these amateurs convince seed companies that the rest of the world will want to enjoy something they've discovered. A Cherokee purple tomato grown in Alaska in 2011. One day in 1990, a packet of tomato seeds arrived in LeHoullier's mail with a handwritten note. However, I think the water content in tomatoes often has to do with when they are picked off the vine rather than the variety itself. Sherry Shiesl/Tatiana's TOMATObase Whether you’re buying Cherokees at a farmer’s market or picking them from your home garden, do enjoy eating them in salads or other cold dishes. So I think the general description of “watery” tomatoes has more to do with the planting and picking than the actual varieties. For tomatoes like these, they are best served raw to preserve their unique crisp quality. "And tomato seeds have long viability, so they might sit in a glass jar in somebody's pantry for many years before someone discovers it and decides to keep growing it." A version of this story was first published on Aug. 13, 2013. Ultimately, I think tomatoes are juiciest when picked at peak ripeness, but that can turn into a whole other article. It’s almost as if they have casings like sausages. A Cherokee purple tomato grown in Alaska in 2011. That is what was contributing to the “watery” quality. "That makes sense if it comes from the Tennessee River Valley originally, which is also humid.". His hunch was correct, and LeHoullier was so impressed with the tomatoes the color of a "bad leg bruise" that he named them Cherokee Purple and sent his friends at a few seed companies some seeds. I did my research, asked around to my tomato growing friends and found that the Cherokee purple tomatoes made for nice tall plants with large fruit all around the country. Hopefully, I will find some great ones at my local farmer’s market this summer. If you have had the opportunity to try Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, you are in for a treat. As with all tomatoes, rich soil may be a must. Soon, LeHoullier had built a reputation as a tomato connoisseur, joining a small group of other hard-core tomato seed savers committed to reviving heirlooms. The Cherokee Purple tomato on the right was grown in a greenhouse, in a five gallon container and watered daily. "It's one of the more fascinating and frustrating aspects of pursuing heirlooms. The sender was John Green of Sevierville, Tenn., who wrote that the seeds came from very good tomatoes he'd gotten from a woman who received them from her neighbors. Cherokee Purple grows well in most regions of the U.S. Let the fruit ripen on the vine for the best flavor. And seed savers say discoveries like the Cherokee Purple help preserve not just genetic diversity but also history. I have a friend on the West Coast that is a die-hard Cherokee Purple Tomato lover. Your email address will not be published. Rob Johnston is the founder and CEO of Johnny's Selected Seeds, another company that got the Cherokee Purple from LeHoullier and now does good business from the seed. I have to admit, they taste great. Cherokee Purples are a number of the foremost eye-pleasing and distinctive of tomatoes in both appearance and taste. Required fields are marked *. I certainly miss the sweetness they have and their crisp bite. (Heirlooms are much friendlier to seed saving than the ubiquitous red hybrid tomatoes that dominate the commercial market.). Craig LeHoullier, a retired chemist from Raleigh, N.C., can take credit for introducing us to the Cherokee Purple tomato, one of the most popular heirlooms grown and sold today. One friend warned me about humidity though, which could play a factor here in certain states. Its kind of what most people look for in a tomato. They have this sort of purplish/red hue that just lights up a salad. Tomate Noire Cherokee Purple - Cette très ancienne variété s’adapte à tous les climats, en particulier aux saisons sèches. I have a friend on the West Coast that is a die-hard Cherokee Purple Tomato lover. A lot of people choose tomatoes for color and Cherokees are a beautiful thing. Your email address will not be published. We got to wondering just who, besides farmers, is to thank for this expanding panoply. hide caption. I love learning about the history of my food, especially when it comes to tomatoes. She said that the humidity really dampened her plant’s growth. It was time for a taste test. In his small yard at his home in the Raleigh suburbs, he can grow only 200 plants, so each year he must pore over the collection to decide what makes the cut. If you go to the farmers market this time of year, tomatoes are strutting their stuff in all sorts of glorious and quirky hues: green striped, white, pink, indigo, even purplish-brown. 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