Monday, 23 August 2010
Striped German Tomato and a Bacon-Cilantro-Tomato Sandwich
As with so many old tomatoes, the history of Striped German -sometimes refered to as German Stripe or Striped - is hard to trace. As far as I can find, it was introduced by Johnny's Seeds over 20 years ago, after having been a pass-around variety for some unknown length of time. Other hints suggest that it originated in Hampshire County, West Virginia. It's quite possible; the name suggests a "Pennsylvania Dutch" or at least Mennonite origin, and Hampshire County butts up against Pennsylvania Dutch territory. Old German is a very similar tomato, but larger and later. I haven't grown it.
Seed catalogues describe Striped German as in indeterminate, 80 day tomato, a fine flavored red/yellow bicolor with unusually well defined stripes, and a productive plant. I don't find the stripes that pronounced; more like red-orange marbling, with more orange on the outside than red. Mind you, I have exactly one plant to go by. I'm a bit annoyed by this; I planted 2 Striped Germans, and one of them is distinctly off-type, and not nearly as good. Somebody wasn't keeping their seed plants well isolated? Harumph.
However, a well-grown Striped German - and my other plant seems fine, and more or less as I remember from the last time I grew them - is a real treat. The tomatoes are medium to large (mine are more medium, but they're pretty crowded) with red, yellow and orange marbled flesh and skin. They are dense, with moderate seed cavities and gel, and good texture that balances softness and firmness. The flavour is sweet and rich with fruity, almost tropical, notes. They are one of my favourite tomatoes for eating fresh, and a lot of other folks rate them highly too.
My tomatoes are unusually round - this may be because I don't have completely pure seed. Many Striped German tomatoes are rather ribbed, to the point of being lumpy.
They make great sandwiches. The one above is a "BCT"; a bacon, cilantro and tomato sandwich. The use of cilantro and baguette made me think of banh mi, so I threw on a little hot sauce with the mayonnaise. Very yummy.