This is the first in our series of blogs about heirloom tomatoes – those less-than-perfect, seldom solid red-orange, thin-skinned and fragile tomatoes not bred for long-distance shipping or machine picking, rather handed down through generations of seed-savers for the best in flavor. They are often unusual looking, always a delight to the palate as well as the eye.
One of the first full sized tomatoes that’s ready in our garden is also one of our favorites, the Cherokee Purple. Shaded from a deep burgundy through mahogany to a dark green on the shoulders, its visual appeal foreshadows some of its culinary attributes.
Almost any fresh summer tomato has a flavor that stands alone well; we like to eat them with a little basil and a mild dressing or mayo. The Cherokee Purple has a flavor that seems to derive from its color, almost a winey taste, complex, with a richness and sweetness like no other tomato. It’s a good sized, relatively round tomato, firm but still juicy, perfect for salads, but still good in a sandwich. Our favorite tomato sandwich is simple, just a slice or two of tomato, maybe a leaf of lettuce and perhaps a slice of any good tasty cheese.
OK, gotta go – I’m drooling.