This has been an exceptional year for tomatoes. I say ‘exceptional’ because it has been the first year that I haven’t had any blight at all. But it has also been a very fruitful season; better even than those years when the plants produce loads and then succumb to the ghastly blight.
Every year I try out a number of new tomatoes in the hope that I can add some to my annual can’t-grow-without list. And the experiment I was most excited about was this grafted blue-and-white tomato bush from Suttons, which includes a ‘Indigo Rose’ and ‘White Cherry’ plant on each rootstock.
I grew two in the greenhouse, and one outside in a container with no protection at all, just to see if it made much difference to the crop.
And I can’t say it did: both plants produced about five long trusses of really quite chunky cherries each (maybe more like damsons in size if we’re being accurate), and both took forever to ripen, particularly the ‘Indigo Rose’.
‘Indigo Rose’ is a trendy tomato, famed for its apparent antioxidant qualities and all that sort of jazz. I tend to be of the school that believes that if something is homegrown and looks like it was grown rather than assembled in a factory, then it’s good for you, so I don’t fuss too much about whether one tomato is more super than another. But this is quite a special tomato. It does take a very, very long time to ripen. Indeed, I picked and tried to eat a few that weren’t ready, and it was only at the start of this month that any were.
Once you get a ripe fruit, you realise that it isn’t like other tomatoes, either. This tomato has quite a thick skin and a firm flesh. And the flavour really is extraordinary. It is the smokiest, wine-iest tomato I have ever tasted. It is delicious.
Oddly, ‘White Cherry’ is quite the opposite. I’m a white tomato fan, but raw this firm-fleshed fruit isn’t much to write home about. Like many quite dry tomatoes, this is much, much better roasted, as it has enough of a body to amount to something when it emerges from the oven. This makes me think that a white tomato soup might be in order, given how many white tomatoes I find myself with, and given I’ve always wanted to make something with a disconcerting discord between its colour and flavour.
The other good thing about these grafted tomatoes, as well as them producing two crops from one pot, is that the rootstock they are perched on top of adds vigour, which is what has given me such a great tomato harvest. I would definitely recommend buying and growing these next year. It’s what I’ll be doing, anyway.