Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tomato Review 2012 Part 2 - Other Color Tomatoes

This is Tomato Review 2012 Part 2 - Other Color Tomatoes. Part 1 - Red Varieties can be found here. I have to say that we really enjoy a lot of tomatoes that aren't red. They are packed full of flavor and are so so beautiful!!!

Pink Tomatoes:
  • Belgian Beauty - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This is the second year that I have grown this tomato. The fruits are large round and a deep pink color. They weighed around a pound, but can get as big as two pounds. They are very meaty and low in acid. They are supposed to be excellent for winemaking. We are definitely planting them again. Original Seed Source - Landis Valley Museum
  • Tiffen's Mennonite - Indeterminate 80 day Mid/Late Season Heirloom - This tomato is very similar to a Brandywine, both in shape and taste. The fruits are a nice deep color and are medium to large in size with a wonderful flavor. This is one of the tomatoes we use for slicing, salads and sandwiches. I also use it for canning and sauces.Original Seed - Amishland Seeds
Purple Tomatoes:
  • Cherokee Purple - Indeterminate 73 day Mid-Season Tennessee Heirloom - This tomato is one of the best tasting tomatoes! It has always been our favorite. This heirloom tomato from Tennessee was cultivated by Native American Cherokee tribe. It is a very dark colored beefsteak type tomato. Original Seed Sources - Jeff, Daphne, Thomas & Diana
  • Eva's Purple Ball - Indeterminate 70 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This tomato has to be the best all around tomato that I have ever grown. The fruits are perfectly round and average around 5 oz. They are the perfect size for a sandwich. The fruits never crack, it's extremely prolific, great tasting and it is very resistant to disease. No matter what Mother Nature hands out, this tomato always does well. Original Seed Source - Amishland Seeds
Other Colors:
  • Black Cherry - Indeterminate 64 day Early Season Heirloom - This is the second year that I have grown this tomato and we just love it! The fruits are quite big for a cherry variety weighing 1 oz each. The plant does get very big and produces non-stop throughout the season. It's also great tasting! Original Seed Source - Jeff 
  • Kellogg's Breakfast - Indeterminate 80-90 day Late Season West Virginia Heirloom - This is the second year that I have grown this tomato. The fruits are very meaty, orange and very big. Most fruits weigh more then 1 lb. It is low in acid and a favorite of many around here. It didn't do well this year due to the weather. But, I'm definitely planting it again next year. Original Seed Source - Jeff
  • Pineapple - Indeterminate 93 day Late Season Kentucky Heirloom - This is a beautiful and great tasting tomato! It has very large yellow and red fruits. The plant and the fruits get very large. It's one of the favorites around here for slicing and salads. This plant didn't do very well this year either, due to the weather. But, it's on the list, as always for next year! Original Seed Source - Diana
  • Paul Robeson - Indeterminate 74 day Mid-Season Russian Heirloom - This is the second year that I have grown this tomato. Although Cherokee Purple has always been our favorite, I have to say that this tomato is just as, I guess it's a tie! The fruits are very dark in color, purple/black. They are shaped similar to a CP. But the fruits are usually larger. It didn't do as well this as last year. But, once again is on the list for next year! Original Seed Source - Jeff
  • Speckled Roman - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This is the first year that I have grown this tomato. Here is the description from the seed source - Stunning & unique, long pointed red fruit have wavy golden stripes! The fruits are a perfect mid-size fruit, with brilliant color and exotic markings. Very meaty flesh with excellent sweet flavor. They have very few seeds. This great variety was developed by John Swenson from a stabilized cross of Antique Roman and Banana Legs. He called it Speckled Roman. This tomato was a great producer and "The Italian" raved about it flavor. We are definitely planting this one again! Seed Source - Amishland Seeds
  • Sungold - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This is the first year I that I have grown this tomato. It is a cherry type with very sweet, round bright yellow/orange fruits. It produced non-stop throughout the growing season. We loved this tomato for salads and on pizza. We are definitely growing it again! Original Seed Source - Dave
  • Mystery Tomato - I had two mystery tomatoes this year, one was red and one was yellow & red. Some of you may remember the post I did on the yellow/red tomato. The tomato was a potato leaf variety and was labeled Speckled Roman. It probably produced more than any other plant this year. The fruits had no flavor and were very seedy. I never did find out what it was. I guess it will remain a mystery!
I planted 45 tomato plants this year, 41 at the plots and 4 at the home garden. Considering all the problems due to the weather, the tomato yield was good. I threw out hundreds of tomatoes with BER and then the tomatoes took forever to get ripe. The total weighed tomato harvest this year was 358.2 lbs. which does not include any cherry varieties as I did not weigh them. 
Pretty soon it will be time to start planning next year's tomato varieties!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Frost/Freeze!

When I left work today it felt quite chilly. I really didn't think anything of it since the radio said it was going to get down to 36 tonight. Then I decided to call Dora from the Community Garden. It's a good thing I did! She wanted to know if I was on my way to the garden since we were getting a freeze tonight. What??? Oh, that's right, I work near Philly and it's a half zone warmer!!

Since daylight ends much earlier then I would like this time of year, I went straight to the garden. Dora was so kind and left me a sweatshirt and containers to harvest the last of the summer veggies.

Hot & Spice Peppers and a couple of small Eggplant

Sweet Peppers

I do have some celery plants in the home garden. But, I think they will be just fine.

Have you had your first frost or freeze yet???

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard...........10/11/2012

Although most of the preserving is finished, I still have a few/many things to make or finish taking care of. Since the peppers are still going strong, I have made some pepper mash and will be experimenting with making hot sauces when we get back from vacation. I ordered the mustard seed for making mustard. That will also be started when we get back.

Presently there are two containers of pears sitting in the kitchen awaiting to be canned this Saturday. I will can them the same as the peaches with a mixture of fresh juice and light syrup. There's also the balance of the dry beans lying on racks drying in the spare bedroom. Hopefully they will be dry soon so I can finish shelling them, weigh them and put them away for later use. 

I haven't decided what I'm going to do about the popcorn. Most of the white corn is hanging in a mesh bag on the back of the door leading to the basement and most of the strawberry corn is hanging from the pot rack in the kitchen. I suppose that I will shell and weigh the white corn. However, we really like the look of the strawberry corn hanging in the kitchen. That corn may stay there for awhile since it's so pretty. There's also dried herbs and dried peppers hanging in the kitchen awaiting to be processed and put away for storage.  

It may sound like a lot and I'm sure that there is something I forgetting. With the exception of the canning of the pears, what's left to do really isn't all that bad. Most of it is fun and easy stuff, unlike the never ending canning and freezing of the summer crops this year!

Since I really didn't do any canning or preserving this week, I thought I would share a recipe and a tip. 

Hot Pepper Jelly
  • 2 Cups of finely chopped and seeded sweet peppers. I use a combination of colors to give the jelly a festive look
  • 3/4 Cup of finely chopped and seeded hot peppers. You can adjust the sweet/hot ratio if you prefer hotter jelly or you can add a Tablespoon of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Cider Vinegar
  • 6 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Pouch of Liquid Pectin
  1. Place all of the Peppers and Vinegar in a large saucepot
  2. Stir in Sugar and bring to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly
  3. Stir pectin in quickly and pepper flakes (if you are using them)
  4. Return to a full rolling boil and boil one minute
  5. Ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of the top. Cover with hot lids and process in a boiling bath for ten minutes
Once the jelly is finished processing, I put the jars on a wire rack. Once they cool down a bit, I turn them upside down. Then I continue to turn and shake them until the jelly has jelled enough to keep the pepper pieces suspended throughout the jelly. If you don't do this, the pepper pieces will float to the top.

Isn't it pretty???

What's been going in or out of your Kitchen Cupboard lately....and are you finished preserving your harvest???

Since we will be on vacation for the next two Thursday's, Jody & Belle at Spring Garden Acre will be hosting Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tomato Review 2012......Part 1 - Red Varieties

Before I do my tomato review, I apologize to all my faithful readers for lack of  responses, comments & late responses. I have been reading your posts and comments. Due to my work, the never ending canning season this year, garden clean-up and getting ready for nice vacation with "The Italian". I really haven't had the time. Now on to the Tomato Review....Part 1 - Red Varieties.

This year was very unusual for the tomatoes. The plants were some of the strongest and stockiest plants that I have ever grown. They set fruit and were loaded with tomatoes early in the season.  Then we had many heat waves/droughts which seemed to stop the plants from growing, setting more fruit and the existing fruit did not ripen. The weather also caused a lot of Blossom End Rot (BER) early in the season. I tossed hundreds of tomatoes with BER. The varieties that seemed most affected were the Roma types. The strange weather also caused the tomatoes to be very late. My largest tomato harvest this year was the week of August 27-September 2. This is about 4-5 weeks later then usual.

I planted  a total of 45 plants, consisting of 20 varieties. There were 41 plants at the plots and 4 in the home garden. I tried several new varieties this year in my on-going quest for the perfect tomato. I was very pleased with most of the new varieties.

Red Tomatoes:
  • Amish Paste - Indeterminate 81 day Late-Season Heirloom - I really love this tomato. It is a nice meaty, oval/oxheart shaped tomato. The fruits weigh 5-9 oz. and are very prolific. They have a good flavor and are great from canning, sauces and salsa. This variety also tends to fair well against disease.Seed Sources; Thomas & Wintersown - I didn't find any difference between the two seed sources.
  • Bellestar - Determinate 65 day Early-Season Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato and I really love it. The fruits are a beautiful deep red, very few seeds and meaty. They are on the small size about 3-4 oz. each. They have a good flavor and are perfect for canning and sauce. Seed Source: Wintersown
  • Howard German Red - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Seson Pennsylvania Heirloom - I've been growing this tomato for several years now and we just love it! The locals in Pennsylvania call it a pepper tomato since it is shaped like a long pointed pepper. This tomato is very meaty and has the most wonderful flavor. It's also good for canning and sauces. The fruits usually weigh 5-8 oz. The one plant I had this year didn't do as well as usual due to the weather. But, we will be planting it again! Original Seed Source: Amishland Seeds
  • Italian Market Wonder - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Italian Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato. It is a round red tomato with a lot of seeds. It is supposed to be a great & dependable tomato. Truthfully, I didn't find anything great about it at all. I really don't think I'll be planting it again. Seed Source: Wintersown
  • Lancaster County Italian Paste - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - I have been growing this tomato for many years and used to use it for making salsa. The plant is small but not a determinate variety. The fruits are a small, oddly ruffled roma looking and are somewhat hollow inside. They are extremely prolific and stand up well to disease. Due to their size and the fact that I have found other varieties that I like better, I may not plant this variety next year. Original Seed Source: Amishland Seeds.
  • Paulina - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Season Heirloom - I saved this seed from tomatoes that we purchased a few years ago when the Late-Blight was every where and we had very few tomatoes for canning. It is very very similar to the Amish Paste tomato and came from an Heirloom Tomato Farm nearby. The fruit is oval/oxheart shaped, very meaty and a great all around tomato. It also fairs well against disease. 
  • Pera d'Abruzzo - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Season Italian Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato. The fruits are giant and pear shaped. They are so big that you only need about 1 1/2 tomatoes for a pint jar! We used them for canning and sauce. They are a definite for next year. Seed Source: Wintersown
  • Reigart Plum - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This is my second year growing this tomato. The fruits are small & oval. They are about twice the size of a grape tomato. This tomato is very prolific, great tasting and disease resistant. We love it in salads and sliced on pizza. Last year I also canned it since it was the only tomato that kept on going even after disease hit the plots. Original Seed Source: Landis Valley Museum
  • Rio Fuego - Determinate 75 day Mid-Season Italian Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato and we really like it. It is blocky shaped, medium sized paste tomato. It's also high in sugar content and did very well. It's another one I will be planting next year. Seed Source: Wintersown
  • Roma VFN - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato. It is a classic small roma type tomato with disease resistant V, F, N. It was very prolific and much meatier then the LC Paste. It did have a lot of fruit that got BER early on and then did very well. I will most likely plant it again next year. Seed Source: Wintersown
  • Rutgers - Determinate (supposedly) 73 day Mid-Season - The following is the description of the tomato: Historic tomato breed at New Jersey's famous Rutgers University in 1934. It was developed  for growers at the peak of New Jersey's canning industry. Big users were Heinz and Cambell's Soup. So you know this tomato grows fast and the taste is always excellent. Well, let me say that this is the worst tomato that I have ever grown!!! It is has more seeds then you can imagine. It has no flavor and just kept on producing. I stopped picking the fruits early on and pulled the plants. Needless to say, I will never grow this tomato again! Seed Source: Mike the Gardener

Mystery Tomato: This year I had two mystery tomato plants. One of them was a red variety at the home garden. It was supposed to be an Eva's Purple Ball. It turned out to be shaped somewhat like a Cherokee Purple....but, it was red and had no flavor. I have no idea what it was. It must have cross-pollinated with another variety. Although this is unusual for tomatoes, it does occur.

Tomatoes that didn't make it: I had two different red varieties that I wanted to try this year. One was Vinson Watts, seed from Lynn at Wood Ridge Homestead in the Shenandoah Valley. I was very excited to try this variety as it is her favorite. I only started one seed and by the time I realized the plant was not healthy it was too late to start another one. I also was given seed for an Italian Paste variety from Wilderness at Growing and Cooking. I only tried to pre-sprout one seed and was not successful. I was also quite excited about trying this variety. Next year I will definitely try to grow these two varieties again.

That's it for Tomato Review Part 1 - Red Varieties. I will post Part 2 - Other Colors, sometime this week.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..............10/4/2012

The canning has really slowed down......thank heavens!! I still have some beans that are not completely dried and a basket of tomatoes that will most likely be made in to puree. I was planning to can some pears this week. But, "The Italian" ate them!! I guess I'll be going back to the orchard on Saturday to get more.

I figured I would post the Green Tomato Salsa recipe since a lot of you have been interested in it. This recipe is from Diana at Voice in The Garden. It's a big hit around here!

Green Tomato Salsa


  • 3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 11 lbs. Green Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Extra Large Sweet Onions, chopped
  • 3 Sweet Peppers, chopped
  • 4 Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped (+/- according to personal taste)
  • 8 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped (I don't put this in before canning. It can be added, if wanted when served)
  • 2 Tbs. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey

  1. Add Olive Oil to an extra large pot and heat on medium
  2. Add Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers and stir
  3. Add and combine the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well, hear slowly to a simmer and cook uncovered for 35-30 minutes, or until it reaches the consistency you prefer. Stirring frequently to avoid burning.
  4. Ladle the hot salsa into hot sterilized jars, and fill to within 1/2 inch from top.
  5. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth
  6. Place sterilized lids on jars and adjust the ring.
  7. Place in boiling water bath and process for 15-20 minutes
This is not a full batch.
It sure is good.....Thanks Diana for the great recipe!!

What's been going in or out of you Kitchen Cupboard lately???

Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvest Monday................10/01/2012

The harvests are really dwindling down. I only have peppers and eggplants left in the garden. I'm sue there will be several weeks of no harvests since there is no fall broccoli and cauliflower and I was way way behind sewing any fall/winter greens.

Sweet Peppers & a few Tomatoes

The last of the tomatoes :(
I pulled all the plants this past weekend. 

Hot & Spice Pepper and a small Eggplant

I managed to get a few raspberries.

Total weighed Harvest: 15.2 lbs

Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in  veggie gardens around the globe!!!