A Tasty Tomato Snack

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's surprising what discoveries can be made during an early morning or early evening walk through ye olde vegetable garden.

For instance? I keep waiting, patiently, for three Azoychka tomatoes to turn yellow. They are three of the largest tomatoes I have in the garden. And they stubbornly remain GREEN -- as do about four or five other Lemon Boy tomatoes.

Not that I'm complaining. I am getting surprise production out of the red tomato varieties. In fact, because I was concentrating so hard on the Azoychka, I completely MISSED the Cosmonaut Volkov that was turning ripe right before my very eyes.

The Cosmonaut Volkov, plus a Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, became part of a tasty tomato snack that Venus and I enjoyed before dinner on Tuesday night. I cut these tomatoes into quarters, douse them with red wine vinegar, dust them with salt and pepper and finally finish the seasoning off with a coating of dried oregano flakes.

Yuuuuum! Tasty.

I also find it somewhat surprising how common red varieties of tomatoes can have a dramatically different taste. The Cosmonaut Volkov has a rather mellow taste to it, while the Rowdy Red is tart, sweet and acidic at the same time.

The Volkov, as you might be able to deduce, is a relatively new variety that was developed in Russia. The Rowdy Red was developed closer to home, by a UC Davis breeder, according to Gary Ibsen of "Tomatofest" fame. The following is from his website:

The seeds of "Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red" came from Archie Millett, a tomato breeder with the University of California at Davis since the early 50's. Following years of crossing thousands of tomato varieties at the university to produce a disease resistant tomato with intense flavor, Archie retired in '87 and continued cross breeding his favorite tomatoes to further enhance the flavor qualities of his favorite tomato from his small home garden.

One day while visiting Archie in his garden he gave me these seeds by pressing them into my palm and said, "Here, Gary, these are for you. I've only shared these with friends and family. This is the best tasting tomato of my 50 years of growing tomatoes. Name it what you want. Share it with others."

...wanting to give this special tomato a boost into recognition and acknowledge Clint, I asked Clint's permission, to name it, "Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red," after Rowdy Yates, the character played by Clint in his old television series Rawhide." Clint replied, "Sure, Gary, name it whatever you want."

Thus, a new tomato "star" of the garden was born.

Reviews on the Rowdy Red have been mixed at best. The plant peforms best here, close to where it was developed. It has not done as well in other gardens in areas across the country. It is growing well in my garden, and I understand it is growing well in other local gardens as well.

1 comment:

Garry said...


i will be growing seeds this winter w/ keith and we should seriously look at coordinating who grows what - to maximize diversity.

i saw your post on sacratomato gardening on FB about a plant exchange, i am up for it - a true swap, not a giveaway. FF should be a possible swapper too. if we do minimal coordination, i bet we can see some great varieties.

these could include common hybrids - but qwould prefer less common hybrids and of course hierlooms. doesnt make much snse to do an early girl - but does make sense to do other early varieties we might not find; i.e. oregon spring, dona, etc.

lets keep this in mind.