Monday, September 06, 2004

Cherokee Purple

Cherokee Purple Posted by Hello

Another in the “black” category. Not sure if the photo does it justice, but the coloring is slightly different from Black from Tula. The shoulders aren’t quite as green, and the flesh has more of a very deep rose color, in comparison to an almost brownish hue to Black from Tula.

The flavor and texture is also a bit different. Cherokee Purple makes the list of a very large number of heirloom growers as their “best tomato of all,” selection. It has a deep rich flavor, but despite the unusual appearance it is far more along the lines I consider “classic” tomato flavor. Think of the best backyard tomato you’ve ever tasted. Now increase the intensity. That’s Cherokee Purple.

The variety comes from seed sent to Heirloom Tomato aficionado Craig LaHoullier in the early 90’s. The person who sent it, who lived in Eastern Tennessee, claimed it was given to his family decades ago by Cherokee Indians when they lived in the area. I’m deeply skeptical of any claims of the sort, as they sound more like marketing than history. But so far no interested researchers have been able to disprove the claim, and have turned up some circumstantial evidence in support. Draw your own conclusions about that.

But in any case, this is one of the heirlooms making a sort of “breakthrough” into the mainstream, in the sense that you occasionally see this offered in gardening centers along with popular hybrids like Big Boy, and Early Girl. The reason is that it truly is an awesome variety, judging by heirloom standards or any other (well, maybe not if you judge by looks).


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