07 August 2009

11 kilos = 22 24 lbs.

That's how many ripe tomatoes we picked in the garden in about 15 minutes' time yesterday afternoon. Nearly 25 pounds. The temperature hit 89ºF late in the day, and the dry conditions were perfect. The last two hot days brought a lot of tomatoes to perfect maturity.

This bucket was here when we moved in.
It's perfect for gathering tomatoes.

Most of the fruit we picked consisted little round salad tomatoes, mostly a little smaller than tennis balls. We're not sure what variety they are, or whether they are actually several different kinds. We planted many pieds of many varieties, and then we mixed them all up. And we ended up setting them all out in the garden — 35 or more plants.

Little red salad tomatoes

Then there were a few gigantic tomatoes. One, all by itself, weighed 900 g, which is two pounds. A couple of others were nearly as big. And several were more or less softball-size.

For scale...

Two varieties that are easy to recognize are the little yellow plum tomatoes and the little round purple ones. There is one problem with tomatoes this season in Saint-Aignan: a lot of the plum-shaped ones have a black spot on the bottom of them. It must be some kind of fungus. It seems nearly everybody's tomatoes are showing the symptions. I don't know why the plum tomatoes are especially vulnerable to it. Our little yellow plum variety is not immune.

Some of the bigger specimens

Seeds for Prudens Purple tomatoes, pictured below

The purple ones are immune, apparently, and we're glad of it. They are beautiful clusters of little round berries the size of a pingpong ball or smaller. The ones we planted came from seeds packaged by the company called Pinetree Garden Seeds, located in New Gloucester, Maine, U.S.A. If they were a little smaller, they'd look like grapes.

Prudens purple

Today I'm going to make tomato purée, or at least tomato sauce, using nearly all the tomatoes we picked yesterday. We'll keep out the purple ones for salad. I'm hoping to make a fairly thick purée that I'll run through the moulin à légumes (food mill) with the finest blade to remove all skins and seeds.

Another picture of that behemoth, next to the
little purple tomatoes.

The beginnings of the sauce-making process

I plan to can the purée — put it up in sterilized jars that we can keep in the cellar over the winter. The freezer is still just too full, and we are going to have a lot more tomatoes in August and September, as far as I can tell. We'll also have aubergines and a lot more chard.

This is a tomatillo plant I pulled out
because it had almost no fruit on it.

Tomatillo plants grow wide and leggy, with a single fruit at each "articulation" point. They really need to be planted in their own plot, because among the tomatoes they send out branches that get mingled and tangled up in the tall tomato plants.


  1. Hi Ken,there are some very delicious ,full flavoured tomatoes in the supermarkets here in Queensland,they are called black Russian and are bigger than a ping pong ball but not as big as a tennis ball.They are called the same name on the plants at the nursery and I will grow some this coming Summer.I will be seeing S&S in November, so will bring some seeds.

  2. I wonder if your black spot isn't blossom end rot. It *might* make sense if it was particularly dry when the small purples were first forming or if they happen to require more calcium than the other types.

  3. I did think that the little purple ones were grapes! I had never even heard of purple tomatoes, until someone was selling them last year at the organic farmers market -- he called it a Romanian Tomato. Do they taste very different?

    Your crop looks stunning! That one really lumpy big one looks like a cluster of about 5 tomatoes, doesn't it?


  4. Judy, that's what that big cluster one was like. Now I have cooked a big part of them and I have about 5½ liters of tomato puree. There are still a lot more. Part of them will become tomates confites.

    Syd, you are probably right. It has been very dry. Or maybe it's a calcium issue. I don't know much about that.

    Abbyesmum, thanks. Will we get to see you in November?

  5. Hello Ken,
    This is my first visit to your blog,and I'm having a nice time !
    We have several friends in common,including,Anne,Simon & Susan, and Leesa who lives in my area in the south Paris burbs.

    Excellent tomato harvest; I'm jealous! Our tomatoes have done their job, but just by handfuls. We tend to use the Super Marmande & tomate cerise types each time.

    Enjoy your summer and see you soon.

  6. Thanks for the picture of the tomatillo plant, Ken. The tomatoes look divine. I guess a full freezer is a problem, but a decent problem to have. Good luck on the canning. I know it's time-consuming, but worth it when you have the time. Just sip a little wine while you're slaving over that hot stove!

  7. Now that is an awful lot of tomatoes. Should keep you supplied for months.

  8. I know that seed company, and they're very good.

    The behemoth tomato looks like a Brandywine--divine taste and extremely short shelf life, so for sale usually only in farmers' markets, not stores.


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