'Orange Jazz' is an Excellent New Beefsteak Tomato

| 11/10/2015 10:24:00 AM

Tags: tomatoes, heirloom gardening, garden planning, seed varieties, California, Fred Hempel,

Orange Jazz tomatoes 

Chasing the Premium Flavor Found in the Best Beefsteak Tomatoes

We started seriously growing heirloom beefsteak tomatoes over 15 years ago. From the first year, I was captivated by the incredible flavor that one finds in the best beefsteak tomatoes. That first year, we grew 40 different varieties with wildly different results. In fact, the difference in quality between the best and the worst beefsteak tomatoes, in our community garden plot, was striking.

Early on, it didn’t really matter to me that over two-thirds of the beefsteaks I grew were quite mediocre, flavor-wise, because the flavor of the best varieties made everything worthwhile. Northern Lights, Red Brandywine and a few others were very good. But, by far, the best-tasting beefsteak tomatoes in our garden the first years were 'Cherokee Purple' and 'Black Krim' – two varieties that taste similar in many ways. In fact, the major difference, in our experience, between the two varieties, was that the 'Cherokee Purple' plants produced more than 'Black Krim'. Which is why, early on, 'Cherokee Purple' became our standard “black” tomato.

The smoky, complex sweetness, and velvety flesh of 'Cherokee Purple' was truly eye-opening, and it fueled our general love for “black” tomatoes. Since then, we have tried and enjoyed many more. Over the years, however, other characteristics have continually elevated 'Cherokee Purple' above the other beefsteak tomatoes grown on our farm.

'Cherokee Purple' shows good disease resistance under moderate disease pressure; and it produces early for a beefsteak variety. So when most plants in the field are going down with disease, 'Cherokee Purple' plants often manage to produce more quality tomatoes, and better quality tomatoes, compared to other beefsteaks. It is certainly makes sense that countless lists of top tomatoes include 'Cherokee Purple'.

A Great Beefsteak Tomato Must Consistently Produce High-Quality Fruits in a Wide Variety of Situations

Another important factor that makes 'Cherokee Purple' great, is that many have found it to be less affected by adverse growing conditions, when compared with other beefsteak varieties.  When beefsteak tomatoes are over-watered, through over-irrigation or through unavoidable heavy summer rain, the resulting tomatoes taste watery and their texture becomes mealy.  In our experience, 'Cherokee Purple' tomatoes are less affected by overwatering, and also less affected by other adverse conditions, including cold nights at the end of the season.  In our experience they consistently produce high-flavor tomatoes with excellent texture under a variety of conditions that reduce fruit quality in other varieties.

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