Saturday, 4 September 2010
Ildi & Black Cherry Tomatoes
More tomatoes! Here's another pair of tomatoes from our garden this year. The little yellow ones are Ildi, and the brownish-red ones are Black Cherry. This is the first year we have grown both of these, and I can defnitely see growing them again.
The Black Cherry, as with most "black" tomatoes are nowhere near it. Their colour is their least attractive feature; dark red skin over green seeds and gel combine to give a muddy, brownish effect. They look more attractive when mixed with other cherry tomatoes in a range of colours. The tomatoes - large for cherry tomatoes - grow in cordons of about 8, and they are prolific, starting to produce after about 75 days in the garden. The plants are indeterminate, and the tomatoes just keep coming and coming. I've picked close to 200 tomatoes per plant - so far. The plants get pretty big too; ours have tipped over the tomato cages they were in and are still just rolling along.
Like a lot of black tomatoes they are rather soft and juicy, and I have found them prone to splitting, although others have described them as split-resistant. They have a rich, sweet classic tomato flavour well balanced with tartness and a hint of that smoky quality that so many black tomatoes have, and a lot of people really, really like these very much. We've been drying them, and they are fabulous, having a lovely scent and a rich, fruity flavour with hints of anise and apricot. They hold okay on the vine, but not nearly as well as Ildi.
Ildi is what is called a multiflora tomato - tomatoes are formed in large bunches, rather like grapes. They are advertised as forming 50, 80 or even 100 tomatoes in a bunch. Mine didn't get anywhere near that - more like 15 to 20 per bunch - but the bunches were plentiful, and since Ildi is also indeterminate, they are still coming. The tomatoes are small, about the size of a gooseberry and a similar elongated lemon shape, with a strong golden colour. At 60 to 65 days to maturity, they are quite early. The plants are reasonably bushy, but not nearly so rangy as the Black Cherries.
They often get confused with Yellow Pear tomatoes, which are another old variety of yellow cherry tomatoes, which have a neat pear shape but are not nearly so prolific and are milder (blander) in flavour; I wouldn't grow them if I could get Ildi.
Ildi are sweet and rich, with a lighter, fruitier flavour than the Black Cherries. We've been drying them too, and while they don't have the amazing scent of the Black cherries they are so sweet and fruity they could be taken for dried apricots. So far our crop is heading for over 250 tomatoes per plant, and I'm pretty sure they aren't nearly done yet. One seed supplier suggested that "trusses (of Ildi) can be picked, hung in a cool garage, and kept for weeks without fruit dropping." I haven't tried that, but I have noted that they hold on the vine (or off of it too) very well indeed.