Sunday, October 12, 2008

Attsa Spicy Tomata!

Did you know you can grow San Marzano tomatoes at home?
I didn't know. Until this year.
In April, I became aware of a seedling sale conducted by Marin County Master Gardeners.
They had all kinds, including some with adorably cute names like Mortgage Lifter (it failed utterly; harbinger of the subprime meltdown?) and Boxcar Willie (it's doing OK, it's safe but is not interesting). The Chocolate Cherry was totally cool — plump, brown tomatoes the size of an egg yolk; juicy and sweet. The Sungolds were their usual: reliable, early, prolific, sweet, dull.
But we were astounded that we could plant San Marzanos, the vaunted Italian plum tomato of legend.
Is it true to Italian San Marzanos? I don't know. I have never plopped down three dollars for a can of them (and besides, I'm off canned tomatoes entirely).
But we have roasted several of them and made sauce. It's dreamy, creamy. Superb. Tart. Sweet. Smooth. It's in the freezer for now. There are still several tomatoes on the vine that we HOPE will ripen before the days get too short.
Look at that seductive little character.

23 comments:

dancingmorgan mouse said...

$3 for a tin of tommies? Wow - Our tomato crop this year is a mystery, I was sent a mixed heritage seed packet so I could get - Green Zebra, Lemon Drop, Black Krim, White Beauty, red Tommy Toe, pink Brandywine, Purple Russian, cream Wapsipinicon Peach, Brown Berry or orange Jaune Flamme, I can't wait.

cookiecrumb said...

Morgan: Yeah, expensive imported Itey tommies. Eek.
So you have a mixed packet of seeds? You don't know which is which? Hah, what fun. I wish you luck. I hope you get the Black Krim, which I love. I have never heard of Wapsipinicon. !!
I spent the day Googling backyard greenhouse kits. Sheesh.

peter said...

Did you have a gander at your countdown in the sidebar? Down to double digits. Black Krim are awesome. Our plums did pretty well, but next year I'm going to plant S. Marzano.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: I almost added an update when I noticed -- 99 days (or less) to go!! Eeee.
Thanks for mentioning that.
Totally try the SMs. They work. I loved my Romas last summer, but... XXX!

Dagny said...

I must admit that I have bought the imported canned plum tomatoes. I don't think it was $3 though since I bought them at Berkeley Bowl.

Oh, and if you need a greenhouse, there is one at my aunt's house that needs to be taken down. It's leftover from the days when she owned the plant leasing business and was never permitted. Not sure of its current condition.

dancingmorgan mouse said...

Black Krim sounds like a Russian gangster.
My dad has a nice little plastic tent greenhouse to raise his seeds in (it also protects his parsley from the possums, they've yet to work out how to undo zippers), I use a tray with a clear plastic lid with little vents - only kicked them over a couple of times - grrrrr.

Rachael said...

I grew them too and was really happy I did.

My favorites were the Japanese Black Treifl. (A Russian variety) Good cooked and raw...

Anna Haight said...

oh that seductive come-hither curl! Sounds tasty!

el said...

99 days!!

What an interesting thought: buying ONE tomato plant to see if you like its taste. (You know my problem: plant seeds, deal with lots of plants.) But this was my first year for San Marzanos, too. I got one package of Italian seed company's seed and one package from a friend; no completely noticeable difference except the Italians were more hollow. What superlative sauce, though. From now on it's into the oven, whole, then into the food mill to separate skin and seeds. So very easy.

(And yes, I probably will plant another 30 seedlings of the San Marzanos next year. Only because I am mad.)

Kalyn said...

Ah, lucky you. I've never seen the plants for sale here.

kudzu said...

I am still giggling after reading dancingmouse. I love the idea of possum-proof zippers (but don't tell Pogo).

Don't be too hard on canned tomatoes. Every Italian mamma depends on them and, if possible, puts them up herself.

cookiecrumb said...

Dagny: Sweet of you to mention it (the greenhouse). I think we're gonna go with a miniature plastic-and-aluminum job.

Morgan: I think we're only interested in a greenhouse because it's CUTE! Now, if we could get some cute possums and hedgehogs gamboling about.

Rachael: That's a new one on me. I'll look around for it -- a Japanese Russian tomato! Heh. Thanks.

Anna: If only they would all ripen at once so we could roast the sauce in a single session...

El: YOU'RE mad? But, but...
So, you prepare your sauce exactly like I do. Now I've just got to get a pressure canner....

Kalyn: They caught me by surprise, so maybe they'll turn up in your area. Then again, you could always try starting from seeds!

Kudzu: Morgan is my funny pet mouse with flamboyantly painted toenails.
I'm not against canned tomatoes, really. I have survived on them, and darned if I don't wish I was putting my own tomatoes up in jars. Next year.

The Spiteful Chef said...

Gamboling hedgehogs? Honestly. Society has corrupted just about every living species at this point.

"I'll see your three grubs and I'll raise you one dandelion frond."

"You're bluffing. I can always tell when you're bluffing. Look! Your spines are all standing up. You only do that when you're bluffing"

"Shut up, Possum."

cookiecrumb said...

Spitey: Nononono! Gamboling ≠ gambling.
Sheesh. Shades of bad dog art. What's next, cigars?

Even so. Let's write a children's book! Naughty mammals an' stuff.

Brittany said...

now if only I had the balls to grow tomatoes- they don't like the weather here.

You describe sungolds SO perfectly.

cookiecrumb said...

Brittany: I THINK you can grow tomatoes in Seattle. My pal Tea (Tea & Cookies) does with some success. But, totally, I understand. I lived on Whidbey Island as a kid, and it was depressing and gray.
Weep.
OMG, I just read your profile. You like Joni Mitchell. I've been sobbing to "Ladies of the Canyon" all afternoon.
:D
Sungolds. Feh.

The Spiteful Chef said...

Oh lawdy, Ms. Cookie. I am ashamed to admit that I think word humor is hilarious--thus my lame joke. But I do know what gamboling means vs gambling.

wot larx said...

This is the best photograph you've ever posted!

Sadly, I do pay $3 for those fancy schmanzy organic Italian tomatoes...living in an ancient warehouse loft without any outdoor space (not even a balcony - sob!) we rely on the farmer's market in the park next door - but out of season, we turn reluctantly to The Can....

But I've been doing a little research on grow lights...

Choosy Beggar Tina said...

Very jealous! My tiny patch of usable sunlight in the backyard was totally taken over by cherry tomatoes and zucchini....and that's all that would fit. Chocolate Cherry tomatoes look so lovely and dessert-y. If only they TASTED like chocolate cherries I would be much more likely to get in my daily fruit and veggie intake.

Sweet Bird said...

San Marzano's at home? That's hawt.

And yes, I am one of those fools that have paid for San Marzano's in a tin. Hey, you gotta try everything once, eh? And it's not like there's a ticket to Naples sitting on my desk. They weren't really all that impressive in the tin, as expected, but fresh...oooh, baby.

cookiecrumb said...

Spitey: Oh, carp. I wasn't lecturing you. I know how witty you are. I pooped all over your humor, and I apologize.

Wot Larx: Everywhere I've lived, I've tried to grow tomatoes. Always outside (on a deck, on a patio, in containers... I doubt I'd go as far as grow lights, however. In fact, it seems I choose my housing based on its tomato-friendliness. :)

Tina: Guess what. NO zucchini next year! Who really needs it? We just plant it to prove we can grow vegetables, and then we end up giving them to the mailman. Next year, find a San Marzano plant.

Sweet Bird: I know it's often foggy where you live. By now you should have scoped out your sunniest corner. Maybe next year you can grow some. (Watch out, though; the deer will eat them.)

cook eat FRET said...

i buy cans
so sue me

i wonder if you met me if you'd like me. i'd be the one pulling up in my hummer wearing sparkly clothes and lots of bling with big hair.

(ok - i drive a 10 yr old volvo...)

cookiecrumb said...

ceF: You don't have big hair. You have mermaid hair. I aspire to your mermaid hair, even though I am too old for it. I'm doin' it anyway. But I will not fly to NYC for updates. Homemade mermaid hair. :D