Saturday, August 6, 2016

Ugly Tomatoes

Apparently ugly tomatoes are a thing this year. Who knew?

What are ugly tomatoes? Chances are you've grown some, if you grow the oldtime, heritage varieties. There are several things that the term ugly tomato includes:

All sizes and shapes!
1. Color weirdness: If you grow the black or purple varieties, you know all about this--the tops will stay green or greenish while the rest is dead ripe. It's common in tomatoes like Black Crim, Black Prince, and Cherokee Purple. We grew Black Crim and Cherokee Purple this year, and have had prime examples of the odd coloring.
Black cherry tomatoes. Surprisingly, most of these are ripe.
2. Cracking: The large-fruit varieties of tomatoes are especially susceptible to this condition, and this year's weather has been prime for it. Lots of rain and warm temperatures make the tomatoes grow so fast they literally crack their skins. Better pick and eat as soon as possible, or they'll spoil!

A few of these tomatoes are showing "cat-facing"
3. Cat-Facing: This term is new to me, but I know just what it describes--those tough, dark, brownish bits that occur in oddly shaped tomatoes. These don't hurt anything except that we have to cut them out because they're not tasty at all, and that means losing some of the good tomato meat in the process. This is caused when the plants are exposed to low temperatures, like below 50 degrees. We had a lot of our plants out early, and then in mid-May we had some late frosts, so our plants, at least some of them, were affected. But honestly? It seems to me that big, big tomatoes almost always have these places on them.

Lots of ugly tomatoes!

4. Crazy shapes: the heirloom varieties are especially likely to grow odd ridges, deep valleys, weird protuberances that look like noses, etc. I love these bumpy, strange tomatoes because they taste so good! The round red tomato so favored for years has seen its heyday, I think. Now people are discovering the rich variety of flavors available to them and exploring all kinds of other tomatoes--and most of these delicious oldtime types are not readily available in the supermarket so people are seeking them from local growers. All of which is good news in my book.

This tomato shows some cat-facing, the odd shape, a little color variation, and it cracked in the stem area when it was picked. Four for four!

Are you growing any ugly tomatoes this year?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

6 comments:

Rowan said...

I don't think I've ever eaten any of the heirloom varieties of tomatoes. I've grown tomatoes in the past but always the ordinary red ones.

annie said...

I have s couple of plants, but haven't picked even one yet. :(

Granny Sue said...

The taste of these is so different, Rowan--very full and rich compared to the standard reds. Some of the black ones, like Black Crim (or Krim) are quite early too, so might work for your growing season.

Granny Sue said...

Soon, annie, surely! The wait is so hard though, isn't it?

Michelle said...

Ugly tomatoes are the BEST! Only kind I grow :)

Susan Anderson said...

I'm not even growing any pretty ones. I've been gone too much taking care of my mom. Ah well, maybe next year...

=)

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