Saturday, 26 September 2009
Last Call for Ripe Tomatoes: Garden Peach (Yellow Peach) and Green Zebra
These were both rather late to produce for us; and there will be few more ripe ones than seen in the picture. This is not the fault of the tomatoes, but rather of the fact that we very nearly killed them as seedlings by watering them with salty water (from our deep well) so when they went out into the garden they were at least a month behind, and their survival did not seem at all certain.
However, once into some actual soil, however poor, and given better water, they revived and and thrived.
Garden or Yellow Peach:
One of the Garden Peach plants went on to become the biggest of all the tomato plants in the garden, including the pampered flourishing seedlings that came from the nursery. It was also quite loaded with fruit. The plants in general were amongst our largest. They are indeterminate and vigorous, and a good support or trellis will be required. The plants are broadly disease resistant and if you are not careful about picking up fallen fruit, you may get volunteers.
The fruits themselves are fairly small, a nice size for a single serving. I like that in a tomato, because I don't eat huge amounts of raw tomato, I just want a little in my sandwich or on my salad. They really do have an uncanny resemblance to peaches. The colour is reasonably convincing (I think mine could have been a tad riper), the shape is right, and even the skins have a sandy texture reminiscent of peach fuzz. Only the size and big green stems are a bit off. The flavour is mild and sweet. Some people give it rave reviews, others think it too mild. I have to say I like it a lot. No, it doesn't taste like peaches. That's a bit much to ask, don't you think?
According to William Woys Weber the Garden Peach was introduced into the United States from France in 1862. At that point it was known as the Yellow Peach, Peche Jaune, or Sorbet de Citron tomato. He recommends them for salads, sorbets - and marmalades, oddly enough. Will have to try that.
Unlike many heirloom tomatoes, the Garden Peach has a relatively long storage life. It should keep at least a week once picked, maybe longer, and their rather thick sturdy skins would make them fairly amenable to shipping. As heirloom tomatoes become more popular, I expect this one to show up in stores as a result of these two facts. Also, I do think it is best to peel this tomato before serving.
As you would expect from the name, this is a tomato striped in two shades of green, the light one heading into an olive-yellow as the tomatoes ripen. (Again, another few days of warm sunny weather on the vine would probably not have been a bad thing for my specimens.) They're medium to smallish in size, and my impression is that even if we had got the plants into the ground earlier and in better condition, they would not have been amongst the first to ripen. The plants are indeterminate, although they have not grown as large as the Garden Peach. They have had fewer, but larger, tomatoes. We have had no problems with disease in our garden this year, but they are reported to have good disease resistance, and to be hardy and vigorous plants.
The Green Zebra is comfortably at home amongst heirloom tomatoes, being an open-pollinated variety of unusual qualities. However, it was released in 1983 by Tom Wagner, who bred it using 4 other heirloom varieties. Since then it has become extremely popular. Green Zebras have a tangy, slightly citrusy flavour and a firm texture, and can be used as other tomatoes, raw or cooked, where you would normally use red tomatoes, or in dishes that traditionally use green tomatoes (fried, most notably). Being ripe when green, however, they have a sweetness lacking in green (unripe) tomatoes.