In a rash moment I promised to share the bounty of my tomato harvest with the world, and give pronouncements on their tastes, textures and general fitness for salads, frying, saucing or just popping into the mouth. Oh, hubris. The fact is that my tomatoes have been a complete catastrophe this year. Well, almost complete.
I planted 8 varieties: Yellow Butterfly (such a pretty name); Matt’s Wild Cherry )for obvious reasons); John Baer (gnomic name); Sungold (my mother’s favourite); Pantano (because I like the picture on the packet); Mortgage Lifter (you would, wouldn’t you); Sioux (did well last year); and Mexico Midget (pure fascination).
I germinated them indoors in April (too late); moved them outside to get used to the outside world in late April; and then eased them into grow bags arrayed along my sunniest wall in late May. This coincided with a long period when it was cold, dry and windy, and my poor tomato plants took it rather badly. The regular buffetings they got did nothing for their deportment or for their flowering. Most went on strike and did not fruit at all. My harvest has been the most miserable on record.
Of the 8 varieties, only John Baer and Pantano produced anything of note. Ah, but such note. Pantano was good, nice lick of acidity, firm structure. It was the tomato of choice to go with the fragrant shaving of bacon (my guanciale) that is my habitual autumn breakfast while the tomatoes last, and it a good salad tomato (try it sliced and livened up with chives or even chopped shallot in the French manner, as a change from the eternal basil.
But prince among tomatoes this year was John Baer (pictured above), with a deep, meaty flavour, generous flesh, happy balance of sweetness and acidity, and good for just about anything. Oh, happy tomato. Roll on next year.