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Rainbow of tomatoes on the table

It was a hot sweaty week at Pennsic. The new day-long artisan’s row setup was great for informal discussion and hands-on instruction. I spent a lot of time teaching, about 20 hours of weaving and dyeing and geomancy and plant identification. My vacations never seem to be restful and relaxing, but if they were I’d probably get bored.

Aethelmearc Royal, Pennsic 2010

The last bit was rather wet – we got about 3 inches of rain Saturday night, and it was a soggy pack-up on Sunday. Things are mostly dry and laundered now.

I may not have appreciated the heat and humidity, but the tomatoes certainly did.

Garden tomatoes

I’ve been stuffing myself with red and yellow pear tomatoes for the past couple days, and this evening I headed out to harvest the big ones.

Garden tomatoes

The prizewinner was this Great White, living up to its name in color and size.

Garden tomatoes

The first purple Cherokee wasn’t quite ready for its premier, but the other two full-size tomatoes were ready for their dinner invitations.

Garden tomatoes

Lime green, white, and red Brandywine, diced with two varieties of basil, oregano, parsley from the garden, CSA garlic, olive oil, and served over pasta. That’s what summer tastes like.


The purple African basil is lovely, but disappointing. It has a strong menthol flavor and just doesn’t taste good to me. I won’t be growing it again as an herb, though it makes a nice ornamental.

5 Comments on “Rainbow of tomatoes on the table”

  1. #1 Cynthia/fairiesnest
    on Aug 17th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    You tomatoes are gorgeous! I’ve never heard of the white, but Cherokee purples are one of my favorites.
    Your African basil Looks exactly like my Thai basil, which is delicious in Thai food but doesn’t sub for regular basil in other dishes. Do you think they might be the same?

  2. #2 Phiala
    on Aug 17th, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I’d never seen the white or green before (those green tomatoes are fully ripe), and had seen but never grown the Cherokee purple. I have a local greenhouse that does a remarkable job with heirloom tomato seedlings.

    This basil site describes the African blue (not purple, oops) and Thai basils as different varieties. It says the African is “sweet”, but I find it rather medicinal. Wikipedia agrees with me, saying that it has a “strong camphor scent” – I’d come up with menthol, but camphor is a better description. I haven’t tried cooking with it – other ingredients might mellow the medicinal aspect.

  3. #3 Jeri
    on Aug 17th, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Very nice! Now I need to go browse the heirloom tomatoes bin at Central Market, I think. Sunripe warm tomatoes DO taste like summer.

    I’m looking forward to our blackberries after all this spectacular sun – they’ll be small but very sweet.

  4. #4 Steve/Calvin_cat
    on Aug 17th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Hmmm. Basil with menthol and/or camphor notes. Could make one hell of a Julip, perhaps using a base of Ouzo. But what the heck would you call it? Zorba’s Revenge?

  5. #5 Beez
    on Aug 18th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Had my first Great White last week from one of the market vendors. Amazing taste that I never expected from a white tomato.