Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Krims and Cherokees

This is a ‘Black Krim’ heirloom tomato from my garden, and I have to admit, when I first saw it growing I was disappointed. How come it was green on top and brownish-red on the bottom? I now know that’s how it’s supposed to look, and you do eat the green. The ‘Krim’ is Ukranian for Crimea. It’s often described as “mahogany-colored,” and while it’s a little strange looking, it is utterly delicious. It also has a thin skin that’s easy to slice if your knife is dull! I’ve served it to a lot of company this summer and it’s always a hit, but people often ask why it’s called an “heirloom”? Good question. Some folks like me define it as a tomato that’s been grown in traditional ways, including open pollination, by ordinary gardeners or farmers for a century, whose seeds are “true” and passed down from generation to generation. That’s pretty pure, isn’t it? Some think heirlooms pre-date all the hybrids that popped onto the scene in the 1950’s.

Krims and Cherokees

This is a ‘Black Krim’ heirloom tomato from my garden, and I have to admit, when I first saw it growing I was disappointed. How come it was green on top and brownish-red on the bottom? I now know that’s how it’s supposed to look, and you do eat the green.
The ‘Krim’ is Ukranian for Crimea. It’s often described as “mahogany-colored,” and while it’s a little strange looking, it is utterly delicious. It also has a thin skin that’s easy to slice if your knife is dull!
I’ve served it to a lot of company this summer and it’s always a hit, but people often ask why it’s called an “heirloom”? Good question.
Some folks like me define it as a tomato that’s been grown in traditional ways, including open pollination, by ordinary gardeners or farmers for a century, whose seeds are “true” and passed down from generation to generation. That’s pretty pure, isn’t it? Some think heirlooms pre-date all the hybrids that popped onto the scene in the 1950’s.

Whatever definition you use, try some if you haven’t already. These guys are delicious, fun to grow and interesting to learn about.
The pinkish ‘Brandywine’ is a popular one, though like some other heirlooms, it’s prone to cracking on top. In future, I hope to try ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘cause I like the names. ‘Green Zebra” is also on the to-do list, even though it’s not actually an heirloom.
But who cares? With its yellow and green striped flesh, ‘Green Zebra’ is welcome in my heirloom patch - or on my table - any day.

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Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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