Black Cherry Tomatoes are From God

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seriously, they are.

Seriously.

These are the best cherry tomatoes I've ever tasted in my life, and we have a bunch of them ripening on the vine at the moment in the Backyard of Bird. This is the first of several plants that we have growing in the backyard, and the first to give us ripened fruit.

There are three other, uh, "volunteers" that sprang from the ground outside of a raised bed where I had Black Cherry tomatoes growing last season. I knew what they were the moment I spotted them, but didn't have the heart to pull them out (I'm a SUCKER for good tomatoes), and those three volunteers are fruiting like nobody's business.

Soon, Venus and I will be snowed under with Black Cherry Tomatoes.

I wish everyone could be so lucky. This, by far, is the most prolific and best tasting cherry variety I've ever had. The discovery, oddly enough, came from a "political enemy" in my State Capitol world.

It's a secret that I don't let slip out often in my Republican circles, but my first introduction to this wonderful cherry tomato came from none other than Steve Maviglio, who served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Assembly Speakers Karen Bass and Fabian Nunez, two of the most powerful Democrats in the State Capitol. The wife that is Venus knew Maviglio thanks to her position at Capitol Television News Service.

As for me, I kept a wide berth around Steve Maviglio. I knew him. Every Republican who serves in the communications field knows him, or knows of him. But, he was the last person you wanted your Republican boss to get into a war of words with. Why? He was usually armed with a bevy of nasty zingers that reporters loved to print, and could wind up making your boss look like the 2nd coming of Mr. Magoo if you weren't careful.

But as it turns out, Steve was looking to barter. Venus had recently raved to him about the impending harvest of tree ripened Elberta Peaches -- and we were in for a whopper of a harvest that year. So -- Venus swung the trade: Black Cherry tomatoes and bush beans, for tree ripened peaches.

Steve got four or six of the best peaches off that tree, and I specifically looked high and low for the only peach I could find with a worm hole in it. He got that, plus other peaches, along with a note that read: "enclosing peach with worm hole because I know you organic Democrat types love worms."

I never did hear back from him. But Venus later learned that he enjoyed the note -- and the peaches.

Tracing the history of the Black Cherry tomato isn't easy. It's been around for a couple of years in the United States, but the roots of this fantastic treat appear to be in Russia. Despite researching high and low, I could not find a specific home for the Black Cherry, but I did find the following from Fine Quality Tomato Seeds:

"Black Tomatoes are native to the Southern Ukraine and their seeds were later distributed throughout Western Russia after the Crimean War by soldiers returning home from the front during the early 19th century. Though black tomatoes originally existed in only a relatively small area on the Crimean Peninsula and were limited to only a handful of recognizable varieties, in the years to follow, new varieties of all shapes and sizes began to appear throughout the Imperial Russian Empire.

Today there are at least fifty varieties of black tomato found in the territories of the former Soviet Union, as well as nearly a dozen other types of new black tomatoes which have cropped up elsewhere, most notably in Germany, the former Yugoslavia and the United States."


The taste of a Black Cherry tomato smacks the tastebuds with a tart surprise of sweet, sour and acidic flavors. You can't eat just one and walk away. If you encounter 10-20 ripened Black Cherry tomatoes during a harvest, the best bet is only half of them will make it inside.

I've used Black Cherry tomatoes for a number of dishes. They are perfect for skewers on a barbeque, wonderful in salsas, look and taste great in salads and are perfect for any stir fry dish under the sun. They are a wonderful addition to the Bird Heirloom Tomato garden, and will be a highly valued part of that garden for years to come.

Thanks Steve.

4 comments:

Jenn's Cooking Garden! said...

Mmmmmmm, they sound good! Ive never had them. Maybe that will have to go on next years garden list of things to get. Your Garden is full of inspiration!

dave said...

LOL! Great story, Bill.
Do you save seeds? I can trade you some pine cones or something for some black cherries.
-DaveJ

Greg Damitz said...

Very nice.

Bill Bird said...

Jenn, I just picked the vine clean this morning because we didn't get around to our salsa canning project this weekend. We were too busy canning 21 quarts of DILL PICKLES!!! And Dave, yes, I will seed this one. Most of my tomatoes are far too close together to save seed (there's a high possibility of a mutant cross). But those three volunteers that are fruiting like crazy are a good 20-25 yards away from the other plants. I'll seed those and send you some for next year.