Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2009
This is the tomato that took my heirloom virginity. Many years ago, when I was but a sparkling, wet new home owner, I planted a vegetable garden. Sure, I had kept container gardens before. Grew an odd tomato here or there, had watched my own mother grow tomatoes in her garden, but now I had a vegetable plot and I was going to plant tomatoes.
I did as many generations did before me, I went to my local nursery and bought a few tomato plants. In my basket were the normal hybrids, Better Boy, Early Girl, Beef, Big Boy; all cute and clustered in the 4 count cell packs. And that was when I noticed the lone Cherokee standing across the way. He was in his own pot, tall and sturdy. A loner if I ever saw one. And I was filled with a desperate need to find out more about him. So I grasped his Â½ gallon container and home he came with me.
To say my first taste of this Cherokee was life changing was an understatement. Never had it occurred to that a tomato could taste like anything other than a tomato. I fell in love and it was a love that has brought me to this place.
It was a fleeting summer love, as summer loves tend to be. And oddly, I never grew Cherokee Purple in my garden again… Until this year. I decided that I would re-visit my first heirloom love and see if my inexperience led me to believe it was so great or if the memory was as true then as it seems now.
The description from the company I got it from reads:
This old heirloom variety from Tennessee, rumored to have come from the Cherokees, has a very rich tomato flavor and unique coloring. The medium-sized 10-12 ounce fruits have a rose/purple skin with a brick red interior. With intense tomato taste and just the right level of sweetness, you will be shocked at how special this variety is. Cherokee Purple tomatoes have a thin skin and soft flesh.
The Beauty Pageant:
Size: Baseball size.
Shape: A nice round tomato. It does seem just a smidge prone to cracking.
Color: Dark, dark red on the bottom with dark, dark green shoulders. The interior is the same dark red and the exterior.
The inside: Largish seeds and loose gel. The core is rather thick and the walls, while not thick, are not thin either
Texture: Smooth and soft. Nearly melt in your mouth. The texture stops just shy of being silky, but is not bad at all.
Off the Vine Tasting: Nice, smoky flavor. You can taste the tomato, but there is just more to this. The meat is defiantly weaker in flavor than the gel and sweeter too, but the meat is not bad on its own. The gel is very concentrated and tangy. It bursts in your mouth.
Sliced and Salted Tasting: Salt is no friend to this tomato. It really mutes all the nice flavors in it.
Cooking Thoughts: Again, not a tomato you can sauce with. You lose half the fun if you de-seed it. This is a suburb BLT tomato. There will be no tug of war to contend with than might pull the slice of the tomato out of the sandwich. It will just melt when you bite into it.
Healthy plant that is producing nicely. I can see why this tomato ends up in so many newbie heirloom tomato grower’s gardens. Easy to grow with good taste. You can’t beat that for a beginner or a sure fire standard in the garden.
Will Hanna grow this one again:
Most likely. Memory did not betray me on this one. It is a good tomato. Have I had better? Yes (experience does that) – but this is certainly a solid performer.