Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2007
So this is the infamous Paul Robeson tomato the heirloom lovers every where rave about. All you hear is Paul Robeson this and Paul Robeson that. I am feeling like if there was a tomato that would have paparazzi, this would be it. I am looking forward to trying this. I hope it lives up to the hype.
The description from the company I bought it from reads:
This famous tomato has almost a cult following among seed collectors and tomato connoisseurs. They simply cannot get enough of this variety’s amazing flavor that is so distinctive, sweet and smokey. 7-10 oz. fruit are a black-brick color. Named in honor of the famous opera singer star of ‘King Solomon’s Mines’, 1937. Paul Robeson was also a Russian and Equal Rights Advocate for Blacks. This Russian heirloom was lovingly named in his honor. We are proud to offer such a wonderful variety.
The Beauty Pageant:
Size: Medium size. A bit smaller than a baseball.
Shape: Round but not perfectly so. It looks almost like it had been a bit battered with a side a bit to flat or another side a bit too bulged. As you can see in the picture, the tomato is not crack resistant. (For anyone who cares, I am cooking up a huge batch of sauce tonight to make use of all my cracked tomatoes!)
The inside: Very wet and loose. There are several chambers inside with seeds in them and the multiple chamber walls mean that there is plenty of meat to these.
Texture: Not mealy but not as smooth as other tomatoes I have had..
Off the Vine Tasting: The gel has a good strong tangy tomato flavor and the meat is just a little sweet. The meat and skin near the green shoulders (which help to give it the purple color) is a bit on the bitter side.
Sliced and Salted Tasting: The tanginess goes completely away with salt and this becomes a rather sweet tasting tomato.
Cooking Thoughts: This tomato’s gel is too loose to serve as a side dish, though the flavor makes it a good candidate for that. Probably would make a nice bruschetta as the bread would soak up all the nice, juicy tomato flavor.
We have had an enormous amount of rain in the past week and a half so I can’t say how this tomato would do under normal conditions in regards to cracking. The plant is healthy and medium sized. Not too many fruit on it though. I am having a hard time deciding when these are ripe. Black and purple tomatoes get more and less dark depending on their growing conditions. This year all of my “black” tomatoes have come out looking half green rather than black due to conditions. I am constantly having to perform squeeze tests to decide if they are ripe.
Will Hanna grow this one again:
Maybe. It is kind of like the third movie in the summer blockbuster threequals that are so popular these days. That third movie is always “okay”. Not as good as the first, maybe better than the second was and is not a waste of your time and money but… you still remember that you have seen better before it.