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Ugly? I Don’t Think So.

My ‘Purple Calabash’ tomatoes are crumpled, ruffled, dimpled, and a little bit scarred. They smell spicy, but taste a bit sweet. You can call them strange, but please, don’t call my tomatoes ugly. If you do, I won’t share. Not one bite.


On this September evening, open face tomato sandwiches are on our dinner menu.

The foundation: Two thick slices of sourdough bread, toasted until golden and drizzled with olive oil.

The filling: Slabs of ‘Purple Calabash’ tomatoes, slices of fresh mozzarella, a confetti of basil, a big pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

The finishing touch: Cold beer and vinegar chips. And I think a little Vampire Weekend playing in the background.

Hungry, yet?

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15 Responses to “Ugly? I Don’t Think So.”

  1. 1
    laura Says:

    Sounds like a pretty great evening. September is always a nice surprise (for me, anyway)–just when it feels like summer is over, we get a whole new kind of nice weather to enjoy.

  2. 2
    robin Says:

    Very pretty. I was lured into buying about 40+ lbs of tomatoes at the farmer’s market this weekend. They’re about 50% crumpled yellow heirloom with a beautiful pink shot thru and 50% medium reds. I’ve been drying tomatoes, freezing tomatoes, making BLTs, making tomato soup and eating huge chunks of tomato in salad. And guess what? I think I’ll buy as many again this weekend. We use a lot of tomatoes in soups and stews in the winter, and I’m hoping to store up enough in the freezer to avoid buying a lot of canned tomatoes from California corporate organic growers. We’re trying to be better about eating local, and this should help.

    A question…have you grown Black Krim tomatoes? I bought a start at the Tilth sale, and I think they’re ripening, but they look more dark green than black. Any tips on these?

    Also, while I’m asking questions…any favorite sources for seed garlic? I need to get some in the ground!

  3. 3
    Willi Says:

    I haven’t grown black krim, but I have grown other black tomatoes. Including Japanese Black Trifle and Black Cherry and they both eventually turn red. I just ordered garlic from my friend Dan (www.garlicdan). He is a passionate garlic gardener and he planted so much that he is now selling it online!

  4. 4
    Willi Says:

    Oops. I just noticed a typo in my comment. I meant to say that both of the black tomatoes I have grown eventually turn a deep blackish red, with the shoulders being a darker color than the rest of the fruit.

  5. 5
    robin Says:

    Thanks Willi. I had to write the rest of garlicdan’s site (aka add .com) to get it to work…so folks http://www.garlicdan.com. Just email him. The site doesn’t do much more.

    Willi, I asked for his recommendations. But, I wonder if you have had more or less success with any specific varieties? Particularly when container grown. Thanks!

  6. 6
    Willi Says:

    In the PNW we can grow both hardneck garlic (they get the pretty flower heads called scapes) and soft neck (which have bigger yields). Here’s a good basic guide to garlic: http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-5-16-230,00.html

  7. 7
    robin Says:

    Thanks Willi. I just put in an order for a pound of each variety Dan offers. I figure I’ll eat…or share…whatever I don’t manage to get into the ground. :)

  8. 8
    kelly Says:

    I’m like a Pavlov dog when I see pictures of these tomatoes. We were just away for a few weeks and were hoping to come back to some September tomatoes (we have a drip set up in the garden), but our housesitters must have turned it off. We’re so unbelievably crushed! If we buy a glut from the farmers market, what’s the best way to freeze them?

  9. 9
    robin Says:

    Kelly, I’m on my last 20 lbs of 100 lbs I’ve bought over the last couple of weeks from the farmer’s market. I’ve dried a bunch. I core and chop others in batches and freeze. You can blanch to remove skins if you wish or just let them float up to skim off when you defrost into soups and stews. I’ve made multiple soup recipes and frozen them in meal-size batches. And I’ve made simple tomato sauce to also freeze in batches. It seems like a lot of work sometimes (see http://www.gardenhelp.org/gardening/localvore-tendencies-feeling-suicidal-in-the-fall/). Still, I know from a childhood of pulling bags of frozen tomatoes from the freezer that it really pays off mid-winter!

    Sorry to hear your crop fizzled. I encourage you to visit your farmer’s market though. Right now many farmers are selling #2 grade tomatoes from their gluts. You can usually get 20-25# boxes of great tomatoes for around $20 right now, if you shop hard enough. Look for vendors selling only (or almost only) tomatoes. They’re probably willing to wheel and deal.

  10. 10
    robin Says:

    Oh…and in case it helps…I put the chopped tomatoes in ziplocks to prefreeze. When frozen, I remove and put them into a food saver bag, which will keep them longer. I recycle the ziplocks for other pre-freeze projects, and eventually they become home to a soup or sauce for the season. Food Saver doesn’t do well with really wet stuff, so prefreezing is great. Ziplocks seem fine for saucy stuff. I find freezer “boxes” like tupperware dealies don’t do well and freezer burn sets in pretty quick.

  11. 11
    kelly Says:

    Thanks so much, Robin for the detailed response. I’m heading to the FM this weekend with my best negotiating skills!

  12. 12
    Graeme Says:

    They’re so cool. They’re almost a bit gothic-looking. If Tim Burton imagined Tomatoes…

  13. 13
    Jesse Says:

    Unfortunately tomatoes in my part of the country have been ancient history. Our crop dried up back in August. Extending the tomato season is my primary reason for wanting to head north. Your tomatoes are gorgeous… I hope they tasted just as good!

  14. 14
    Eleanor at OutOfDoors Says:

    I know, my dad won’t buy heirlooms cause he says they are just too strange looking. My own flesh and blood! It’s can’t-believable.

    Reading about the open-faced sandwich reminded me of a restaurant I visited in Rome where all they serve is bruschetta, tons of different toppings on big slices of peasant bread. Oh, and it comes out on cutting boards. Gorgeous! I want to do party just like that…now all I need is a grape arbor and some of those fairy lights that twinkle like real stars…

  15. 15
    Laquanda Desroberts Says:

    Come on dude, ces faits et la preuve * * Je veux dire qui est à pourvoir * lol: P

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