Monday, August 3, 2015

Cherokee Purple-The Gourmet's Tomato

Cherokee Purple is a cultivar (cultivated variety) of heirloom tomato.  They were “discovered” and named in 1990 by retired chemist Craig LeHoullier and are thought to have been passed down from Native Americans of the Cherokee tribe.  

The vines are indeterminate and vigorous growing up to 9 feet. They benefit from strong staking or caging.  Their fruits average 16 ounces!  These beefsteak tomatoes are purple, brown, greenish brown and mahogany with green shoulders.  They may not be the prettiest dark tomato but they win taste test after taste test all across the country.

I picked my tomatoes when they are almost ripe and leave them on the counter (never in the refrigerator) to fully ripen.  Cherokee purple tomatoes have many color variations so I give them a super gentle squeeze before I pick them.  The stem is often quite thick so I recommend using scissors or pruners to harvest them.

I have a special trick I use with my tomatoes before I harvest them.  I withhold water for 1-2 days in order not to dilute the flavor of my fruits.  We sliced the tomatoes, layered them with fresh mozzarella for the most delicious caprese salad.  This tomato was so sweet it even rivaled the flavor of cherry tomatoes with no hint of acid at all.

This tomato was the biggest one I harvested this year.  I was hoping for a 2 pounder but no cigar this time.  There is always next year!


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