By Kelly Lecko
Hello, fellow gardeners and tomato lovers! Boy, have I a treat for you, today! Look at these tomatoes. Do they look normal to you? I guarantee that they are healthy and delicious, and they are supposed to be lumpy like that.
I have found my new favorite tomato variety. It "had me at hello" when I read about it in the seed catalog back in the cold days of garden planning. I begged Trevor to order us some. I must have said "please" because he did order it, we did grow it, and last week I did taste it!
Friends, may I introduce you to Reise, an heirloom tomato variety which, in German, means "travel" or "journey." Although this name originates in Europe, the Traveler's Tomato originated in South America, like all other tomatoes.
A little tomato history interlude.....
Did you know that tomatoes were not introduced to Europe until the 1500's? Furthermore, tomatoes were not eaten by settlers in the Americas until after the Declaration of Independence was written! Can you believe how far the tomato has traveled just to come back home and be a native fruit eaten once again by Americans?
Tomatoes were taken from Mexico by the Spaniards in the 1500's and used not in cooking, but in landscaping. Many people did not trust it as an edible plant because it belongs to the poisonous Nightshade family. The Italians and Spanish were the first Europeans to incorporate tomatoes into their culinary culture. Today, there are over 25,000 varieties of tomato that are consumed around the world. Some of these varieties are considered heirloom varieties. Heirlooms are classified by two characteristics. One, the variety must be at least 40 years old. Two, they must produce viable seeds, unlike commercial hybrids which produce sterile seeds.
My new favorite tomato is definitely an heirloom. It was favored by travelers of old for its ability to tear apart, one piece at a time. Take a closer look....See how the tomato looks like a cluster of smaller cherry tomatoes?
Now observe how I pick off one piece.....
Easy peasy, and not too messy! Don't you want to try it, too? Come on by the AMI Urban Farm to try it out! All of our community work day volunteers are cheering for this tomato, too.