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Cherokee Purple Tomato

Does anyone else sing “Cherokee Nation” every time they think of this tomato? Of course you have to sing it, “Cherokee Purple! Cherokee Pri-ide! So proud to live! So proud to dine!”

These are a unique tomato: I’m still not sure if they are actually a “Black” tomato or not! They don’t quite have the characteristic burgundy outer coloring of other blacks, as they are much more pink. It’s probably safe to say they are only black on the inside–since there is Cherokee Chocolate that has the darker burgundy skin of other blacks. Cherokee Green also exists for those who like green-when-ripe types (me! me!). And there’s also Spudakee, for those who prefer potato-leaved plants (not me!).

The Description from where I got my seed:

Very productive plants bear loads of 10 to 12 oz. dusky rose/purple fruit with deep brick red interiors. The tomatoes are absolutely delicious with a pleasantly sweet and rich flavor. With thin skin and soft flesh, the fruit is somewhat perishable, but they taste so good they will be eaten quickly anyhow. Heirloom from Tennessee. Indeterminate. 80 days

Cherokee Purple tomato makes amazingly meaty slices!

First Impressions:
My first tomato of this type is a siamese twin with two distinct lobes with lots of scar tissue in between. It was from a megabloom, so it is probably against type. Later tomatoes will be much more round in shape.

When I sliced it open (after carefully removing the scar tissue), I was very surprised by how juicy, how deeply colored, and how very meaty the slices look. They actually look like beef cutlets on my plate! Beautiful!

My Taste Review:
Yummm! Biting into these slices is oh so good! They are incredibly balanced, even for the first tomato off the vine. They are soft textured and very juicy, with skin that’s a bit thick but acceptable. Very smooth mouthfeel with just the right amount of sweetness and sour. They do taste a bit watered down, however.

On a sandwich: We had these with my newest favorite sandwich, the turkey BLT (aka turkey club). They were very good! A bit juicy (drippy), but the tomato’s sweetness was enhanced with the contrasting salty and savory flavors of the turkey, cheese and bacon.

Plant Growth & Health:
This is where the bad news comes in. These plants are already supposed to be shorter than other indeterminates, and they are. But they are also scrawny and they were the first to start to get yellowing of the lower leaves (common mid to late season here). Then there was the fruit set. I’ve got one fruit growing on each of two plants. So two fruits. Two. And I just ate one.

That means fruit set is terrible during the crucial month of July–also the hottest month of the year. Terrible.

Will I grow again?
I don’t know. The fruit set is so bad, and other tomatoes taste just as good or better with better plant health and fruit set. I’m saving seed to keep my options open, but I will probably just hold on to the seeds for trading with.

End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield_______Yield per Plant
__2____________83_____________3________12__________6

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Ever since I learned of the existence of black tomatoes, I have been on a mission to find one that I like. So far only two have been tried: carbon and black cherry. The carbon was too bland for me and the black cherry‘s main fault is that it is a cherry. While Purple Calabash is not a beefsteak tomato, I couldn’t resist adding this to my seed list. I thought that from it’s description and reviews that it is the least like a black tomato while still looking like a black tomato I could ever hope to get. It is supposed to be very tart, often described as “assertive.” This could be a tomato I could really get creative with.

Purple calabash tomatoes are ruffled and beautiful!

The Description from where I got my seed:

This is the most truly purple tomato we know, not just pink-purple, but it is deep purple-burgundy. It is also uniquely shaped, extremely fluted and almost ruffled in appearance. Fruit is flattened, about 3 inches across, and flavor is described by some as distinctively winey and rich. Indeterminate. 80-90 days

First Impressions:
I am a sucker for ruffled tomatoes. These are a bit smaller than I usually like to grow but I couldn’t resist them due to other traits. They have the typical black coloring: a rich mahogany with dark green shoulders.

Slicing these retains the cute scalloped edges--well, for the most part.

Slicing into one reveals the brick red interior and juiciness. For such a small tomato, the juice was just pouring out. It also has very loose gel, with gel and seeds falling out of the slices’ cavities.

My taste review:
Wow, interesting. While the slices are extra juicy, this might make them taste kind of watered down. It is rather on the tart side, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it sour. It is more tangy and tongue tingling. The skin is thick. [I know I normally say the skin is “a bit” thick–this skin is thick.]

On a sandwich: We had delicious turkey club sandwiches with these slices. While the tomato was robust enough to stand up with such competing flavors as the smoked turkey, bacon, and cheddar, it isn’t an instant favorite.

A bowl full of purple calabash tomatoes

Plant Growth & Health:
This variety should consider itself super special because I’m growing three of these plants instead of my usual two. Reason being I lost a couple Japanese Oxhearts and needed to fill the space. These plants are right in the middle of my other plants in terms of size and health. I haven’t had any problems with disease and leaf curl is still manageable. The fruit set however, is way ahead of the rest of the pack which means this variety is more heat-tolerant than the others. If it turns out to be a really good variety for making sauce it could make this an essential variety for my future gardens.

Will I grow again?
I’ll have to wait and see about getting enough to make sauce with and reevaluate. Since they are so juicy, I don’t think they’re a replacement for paste types as of yet. For fresh eating, I think I’ll wait and see if the flavor changes later in the season (as in gets a little more balanced).

Cooking with these is difficult because the flesh is so juicy, when you peel off the skin there’s hardly any flesh left to cook with! Amazing yields though, even though most of those are really small.

End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield_______Yield per Plant
__3____________65___________-15________69__________23

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Official Description:

Standard, black raspberry. Ideal for canning or making jams and preserves. Vigorous, erect plants produce large, firm berries with good flavor. Ripens early and resistant to anthracnose. Hardy in Zones 5-8.

Appearance:
These are raspberries that look and grow more like blackberries. They are a deep purple color, the vines are even purple. They are also more vigorous than standard raspberries. The shoots they put out are healthy and large and they make lovely clusters of berries in the Spring, with 7 to 10 large berries per cluster. The berries start out pinkish red that ripen to dark purple (berry-black or aubergine).

Taste:
They taste like raspberries but with a juicier mouth-feel. You know how regular raspberries can make your mouth feel dry? It might be an effect of their sour, mouth-puckering taste. Well, Jewel raspberries don’t do that. Therefore they taste sweeter than the red type.

Growth & Health:
All four types of raspberries I planted in Year 1 (2009) were slow to start. Jewel was the only one of 4 to actually put out a full-sized shoot for Year 2. This is testament again to its vigorous (invasive) growth habit. Now in Year 3, this is the healthiest of my 4 varieties. It is also putting out shoots further away from the original planting, good for starting new plants elsewhere.

Downside: the thorns!

Grow Again?
Unlikely. These are hardy, vigorous, and put out a lot of fruit. But the vines have many thorns. In hindsight, I’d get more yellow raspberries and instead of black raspberries, choose a thornless, non-suckering blackberry.

End-of-Year Stats (2nd year Harvest):
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield____Yield per Plant
__2_________late June_________-_________1 cup_______1 cup
3rd year Harvest:
Just started, but have harvested about 1/2 cup already.  

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