Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Mammoth Cretan Tomatoes & Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes
No points given for guessing which one is which. It's exactly what you think. I thought it would be amusing to take a picture of what is probably our largest variety of tomato with our smallest.
There is very, very little information about Mammoth Cretan tomatoes out there. The only real reference I can find about them links them to Country Meadows Organic Farm, in Queensville. Toronto seems to be the epicentre for them, so I suspect that they brought the seeds back from Greece (actually, I'm going to guess Crete), gave them a name for marketing purposes, and let them loose into the wider world. Tomato growers are notorious both as obsessive savers - all you need is a ripe tomato, some water and a tub - and sharers of tomato seeds, so already the seeds are in circulation.
I was given some seeds as a present a couple of years ago, although this is the first time I have had a Mammoth Cretan tomato since they didn't produce for us in last years dismal, horrible, cold, wet summer. This year they are one of our earliest main crop tomatoes, in spite of the massive size of the ripe fruit.
You want a slicer that will cover your bread from crust to crust? You want your hamburger to be invisible under a, yes, mammoth slice of tomato? You want a single slice of tomato to cover your entire pizza? Here you go. This is it. And it tastes terrific; sweet and mild yet nicely tomatoey. I don't even like raw tomatoes all that much, but I'm watching closely for the next ripe tomato so I can make another sandwich as good as the one made with my model here. The texture was perfect for sandwiches - not too firm, but with very little in the way of gel and seeds, so it didn't goop all over. It's solid enough that I think it would be great to cook with, but it may be a while before any can be spared for such purposes. Pass the mayo.
The Matt's Wild Cherry, on the other hand, is well-documented and very popular. It's actually a form of wild tomato collected in Hidalgo, in Mexico. It was brought to Maine and passed along to Johnny's Selected Seeds, and from there it has become very popular. This is in the eastern part of Mexico, where tomatoes may have originated. Matt's Wild does show some signs of domestication (short styles) , so I gather it may have hopped the fence some time in the past.
The tiny tomatoes are quite sweet, but unlike many modern cherry tomatoes, sweetness isn't their most obvious characteristic. They are also very tangy and flavourful, starting off fruity and intense in the mouth and changing to a lingering tomato after-flavour. They are very juicy, and bit on the seedy side. I don't know that the skins are particularly thick, but because the tomatoes are so small they seem prominent. They hold up well in wet weather, still producing intensely flavoured fruits. Wet weather may cause them to split, however.
Since they are so small, they are best for snacking and salads. They are also good to dry.
They should start ripening 60 days after transplanting, and will continue all summer until frost. The fruits may be small, but the plants are notorious for getting very, very rangy - reports of plants reaching the double digits in feet are not uncommon. They are said to be very resistant to early blight and somewhat resistant to late blight. One other thing they are notorious for: self-seeding.