An Ode to the Beefsteak Tomato

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It isn't pink. It's not yellow. It certainly isn't orange.

It doesn't rival the taste of a Brandywine. It doesn't provide the tastebud heaven that is the Black Cherry.

It's not warped like an heirloom. It doesn't come in different shapes and sizes like the Cosmonaut Volkov, Marianna's Peace or Druzba. You won't find it growing at a crazy 90 degree angle like a Zapotec Pleated

It just is. It's round. It's red. It doesn't crack. It's a tomato's tomato. It is your standard, non-fancy, hard-working, Beefsteak tomato. What type of Beefsteak you ask?

Nothing. Just Beefsteak.

Venus and I have the Beefsteak growing in the far right-hand corner of an 8X8 foot raised bed that is on the opposite side of the yard containing our six main 4X8 planter beds. We thought long and hard about what should go in this location, before the answer hit us like a bolt from the blue: "Why not another planter bed?" Boom! Done!

I'll be honest, there's nothing fancy about this tomato. It has a wonderful flavor to it -- but what vine-ripened tomato isn't wonderful tasting? It grows perfectly smooth round, red tomatoes. So -- how is this any different from a hybrid like Better Boy?

It's somewhat different in that this is an open-pollinated Beefsteak tomato. Unlike hybrids, which will fruit one main crop and then just sort of sit there and look pretty for another month or two, the Beefsteak keeps on truckin.' And, unlike a hybrid, this Beefsteak can be seeded and saved for next year's crop.

As you can tell -- this plant is simply loaded with bear. New fruit -- meanwhile -- continues to form at the bottom -- middle and top of this continiously growing plant. It's a simple tomato really. No cracks. No funny lines. No whoppers. No small fries.

It's just your standard tomato.

What's special about the Beefsteak then? Why write such prose? To some tomato afficiandos -- the world starts and ends with the Beefsteak tomato. My father-in-law is one such person. Oh sure -- he enjoys the colors that the tomato garden produces. But he dreams about tomato sandwiches and burgers topped with round, red, vine-ripened slices of the standard Beefsteak tomato. It's what he had as a boy. It's what he grew on "the ranch" in San Jose for years.

This is for you Gale Stromberg.

What else is amazing about this tomato? The cost. Quite simply, it cost us next to nothing to grow -- other than our time -- water and efforts. The seeds for this wonderful variety were discovered two years ago in a Dollar Store not all that far away from our North Natomas home.

It was there that Venus and I stumbled upon a garden rack of seeds -- ten packets for one dollar. We bought all we could -- including the packet of seeds contained the Beefsteak Tomato. That one dime will equal into about fifty-to-sixty pounds of production by the time this growing season is over.

Call it one of our "better" investments.


The Vintage Vignette said...

I planted several beefsteaks and romas. The beefsteaks were great but the romas had a mealy texture that was not very pleasing to me. Next time I'll stick with good ol beefsteaks. Thanks for the informative post. :)

Gizmo said...

Hey Bill!

Great investment-too bad our gov can't take heed to such wise investments!

I have also grown Beefsteak and it is a mightly fine tomato-not in my top ten or even 20, but good none-the-less just as you say.