I have lots of tomato plants in various stages of setting and giving fruit. Right now, four varieties are giving me bucketloads.
1) Japanese Black Trifele
This guy sets fruit as if his life is on the line. The fruit hangs in clumps, larger to smaller, each pear-shaped and beautiful. The fruit have the characteristic rich-salty-smoky-sweet flavor of the best black tomatoes, and they have few flaws other than green shoulders. Great slicers, I think they'll can pretty well too.
2) Teton de Venus
I couldn't pass up a tomato named Venus Titty. C'mon. Could you? But, even more than it's evocative name, this plant spits out tons of very flavorful, medium sized tomatoes that are short on seeds and heavy on beauty. It's an oxheart variety, and I do love my oxhearts because they're so multipurpose. Great for eating fresh. Great for sauces and canning.
3) Eva's Purple Ball
Once again, great name, but in this case, the only thing true about the name is the ball part. They're not purple, but instead a clear pinkish, almost translucent color. They taste great, wonderful slicers, but I don't think the plant can put up with the heat my climate demands. They set fruit early and stopped setting any fruit the second the June gloom went away. I probably won't grow these again.
This big bugger is just beginning to ripen up now, and provides huge, pound-plus fruit that are almost seed-free and great for canning. They're not dry and mushy, like other paste tomato types, but instead have a nice firm texture and a great acid-sweet flavor balance. The plant seems to deal well with the heat, set fruit well into July, and still appears healthy. I can't wait to get canning these guys.
Yesterday morning, I picked about 20 pounds of tomatoes. Many of them I have in a low oven now, turning into the luscious homemade tomato paste that I can't get enough of during the winter. Many of them I've given away. But lots ended up in yesterday's soup. SWW and I spent the day yesterday telling stories and sipping gazpacho and pink sangria. A better day to wile away a sweaty summer afternoon I couldn't imagine.
Adapted ever-so-slightly from The New Spanish Table (an insanely inspiring cookbook) by Anya von Bremzen.
You will need:
2 cups cubed day old bread
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds
coarse sea salt
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, the seeds haphazardly scooped out
2 small cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 mildly-warm red pepper, like an Alma or something similar, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/2 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
water as needed
To make the soup:
Place the bread in a bowl, drizzle with a little cold water, and toss the bread around to soak up the water for a few minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out the excess water.
In a mortar and pestle, pound together the cumin seeds, garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mash the ingredients into a paste.
Toss the bread, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onion, and garlic paste together in a large bowl and let stand for 15 minutes to let the flavors begin to meld. A small batch at a time, puree the mixture in a food processor until very smooth. Collect the small batches in a large bowl, and whisk in the oil and the vinegar until thoroughly incorporated. Taste. You'll probably need salt and you may—depending on how dense your tomatoes are— need to add a splash of water to thin the soup. You may even need a shot more vinegar.
Serve the soup in chilled bowls to four hungry but hot people.