Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2006
This is the tomato that I have been waiting to try all summer long. I have heard only rave reviews of this tomato, and being the celebrity chaser that I am, how could I resist?
Besides that, this is another one of those “back story of adventure” tomatoes. Marianna is supposedly a Nazi Holocaust survivor. And in case you had never heard the fact, the Nazi’s killed 6 million people of Jewish descent and killed an additional 5 million for other reasons. The story goes that Marianna narrowly escaped being a Holocaust statistic after escaping from a Nazi round-up at her Czech high school. It took her 10 years to find and rejoin her family. The seeds for this tomato were a gift from her father shortly before he died.
The description from the company I bought it from reads:
The sugary nectar of this huge 5 inch tomato’s creamy, dense, red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance and sublime, complex flavors reminiscent of the finest of the “old-fashioned” tomato flavors. This big, beautiful irresistible 1-2 lb. deep red fruit is the talk of the tomato world and has found its way into Top 10 favorite tomato lists of gourmands worldwide. It is perfection.
The Beauty Pageant:
Size: This is spoken of as being a beefsteak tomato, but in my garden it is on the small side for being a beefsteak. It is a nice size but the ones that have come off the plant are not overly large.
Shape: Like a bed in a bad hotel, this tomato is lumpy and bumpy. Not so bad that you would wonder who won the fight, but definitely not a “pretty” tomato.
The inside: This tomato has very tight gelatin and relatively few seeds. Despite this, it is still a pretty juicy tomato. The meat seems to hold a nice bit of juice in it that is separate from the gelatin.
The chamber walls are nice and thick so there is quite a bit of meat to this tomato.
Texture: The texture is pretty smooth but soft. The meat to this tomato is not firm and falls apart pretty quickly as you chew it giving you the impression that you have a thick (and not unpleasant) tomato paste in your mouth.
Off the Vine Tasting: I am not disappointed in this tomato. As promised, this has a tomato’s tomato taste. Very tangy, very tomatoey. The gelatin carries most of this strong tomato flavor though. The meat has good flavor, but the gelatin is where the real tomato flavor party is at.
Sliced and Salted Tasting: Salt is this tomato’s friend with benefits. Adding salt to this tomato brings out a perfect amount of sweetness, and it truly is a perfect balance. All that tomato flavor that store bought tomatoes hint at but could never in a million tomatoes deliver on is brought to you in a single bite of this tomato.
Cooking Thoughts: This tomato seems like an all round good candidate for most things. Serve as a side on its own and it will get rave reviews. Make a salsa or bruschetta and it will get rave reviews. The soft flesh would make a great, quick sauce that would get… rave reviews. Great cooking tomato.
Now the bad news. Well, not really bad, just not as good as I would like. It is late in the season, and I am just now getting fruit off this plant. It is a small plant as well. If I get more than a half dozen tomatoes off it before the first frost, I am going to feel very lucky. And this tomato was in a pretty ideal location in my garden. It is healthy but it just does not produce.
The tomatoes also took forever to ripen. I have been looking at a half pink tomato on this plant for probably close to two weeks. Though you don’t see it in this pic, there is some green shoulders (top of the tomato) to this tomato that make it hard to determine when it is ripe. Even putting green shoulders aside, the squeeze for ripeness test still took longer than I liked for this tomato, especially given its low production.
I know, I know, it has been a bit too cold and a bit too warm over the past few weeks, but that is typical Cleveland weather and this tomato doesn’t seem like it can deal with that well.
Will Hanna grow this one again:
Yes, but with a disclaimer. This tomato is a showcase tomato at this point. A tomato that I grow simply because it tastes so good. I will grow it so that when I have a dinner party, I can put a few sliced ones on the table to show off what sort of fabulous flavors can come out of my garden. I will be lucky if I get enough to do that, let alone make a sauce from them.