Saturday, 4 April 2015

Snow White heirloom tomatoes

This year I am growing a bunch of different varieties of mostly heirloom tomatoes, some are incredibly difficult to find while others are far more common.  I will try to write a post comparing them all later in the season once they have all ripened or decided not to ever ripen.  For now I want to tell you about one of the best tasting cherry tomatoes I am growing which is called Snow White.

Cherry tomatoes are good, but many lack any real taste, they are often good for kids who like sweet things.  White tomatoes are good, but many tend to be a little insipid, that being said there are some amazing white tomatoes around.

I had heard that Snow White was one of the best tasting tomatoes ever bred and one of the best cherry tomatoes around, this had me intrigued.  I have also heard from others that it is nothing special and I would be better off growing other varieties.  A very generous grower sent me some seeds last year, how could I resist growing this and seeing for myself.
Snow White cherry tomatoes

The plant grew well in my garden while a few other varieties did not even survive, it flowered early and was one of the first tomatoes to ripen in my garden.  It seems to have a lot of flowers and unripe fruit on the plants at all times, being an indeterminate variety it should continue to fruit right up until frosts. 

The plants themselves are nothing remarkable, they grow about 6 feet tall here like many other varieties but I assume that they could grow a lot larger.  They have regular leaf and everything looks normal enough.  It would be nice if they were a dwarf plant or if they had potato leaf or something, but in the end none of that really matters.  The plants grow well under adverse conditions, provide large yields, but it is the taste that truly matters.

The first tomatoes I picked may not have been properly ripe, the seeds in them were not properly formed so it may not have been pollinated properly, or perhaps they get better as the season progresses, all I know for sure is that the first few were not indicative of this variety.  When I tasted them they were ok, nothing special, it is probably fair to say that the taste was a bit confused.  Considering that they were bred by Joe Bratka who is an excellent tomato breeder that has been described by those who know him as 'confused' or 'eccentric' I was not overly surprised.  The flesh was sweet and tasted a bit fruity, almost like a bland peach.  The seed part tasted like a regular cherry tomato, good but not great.  Overall it was good but nothing special, if the rest of the tomatoes tasted like this I may not want to grow this variety again.  The tomatoes ripen to a very pale yellow if they are in the sun or white if they do not get any sun on the fruit. 
Snow White tomatoes - yellow in the sunlight
Visually they looked good enough, they produced a lot of tomatoes, but due to the fact that there are thousands of varieties of tomato available in Australia I do not want to waste time or space if the taste does not blow me away.  I would rather keep trying to find something amazing. 

Then there was a week with no new ripe tomatoes, I was ok with that as they were not that great and the weather was odd.

Then the plant started to ripen again so I ate another tomato.  WOW.  They really blew me away.

Perhaps the first fruit were not great but since then they have been fantastic.  The tomatoes look much the same as the first ones, perhaps slightly larger, but the taste is amazing.  The flesh part tasted like delicious fruit, perhaps a peach or sweet ground cherry or something similar to that.  If I was to remove the seeds and blind test people I doubt that they would even recognise this as a tomato.  The seed part tasted like a good cherry tomato, a little acid but not too much.  The two parts together compliment each other well.  I love this tomato, I want more of them, I walk past the plant a few times each day in the hope that another one has ripened. 
Snow White hidden in the back of this part of the garden
The kids love this tomato, in my mind this is one of the best sweet tomatoes that I have eaten.  They are low acid so good for people who normally can not eat tomato.  I probably wouldn't use it to make paste or sauce or for cooking (although many people claim they are great for this) but happily eat them fresh or in salads.  They are remarkable.

I would almost go as far as to say that they are unique, but they are not.  Apparently the man who bred these also bred a few others which were much the same or exactly the same or just renamed this variety.  It doesn't matter too much, what does matter is that these are amazing and I plan to grow them again and hopefully grow a few more plants so I get more of them. 

Why are these tomatoes rare?

I have often wondered why this kind of thing is not more common, if they are so great (and these tomatoes do taste great) why are they not available at the supermarkets.  People often talk about home tomatoes being better because they are picked perfectly ripe instead of mostly green, or that they are fresh, or that they are too soft to be transported, and a few other things like this.

I am sure this is part of the answer, but I think one of the biggest problems is marketing.  People think of tomatoes as red, they are wary of any other colour.  Bright yellow tomatoes have started to become better known and appreciated in salads for their attractive colour.  Some of the brown/black ones have started to come in, but they have backing from a multinational company who holds a lot of power.

These are 'white' tomatoes, they mostly ripen a pale yellow.  Many people think pale colour means tasteless or not fully ripe.  The difference between 'white' tomatoes and yellow tomatoes is that the white ones have translucent skin.

Some people have asked me if yellow tomatoes taste the same as 'normal' tomatoes.  I don't know how to answer them.  Where do I even begin?

Unfortunately this means that the average person will never try these amazing little tomatoes unless they grow them at home as they will not be seen in supermarkets anytime soon.  Some of the best tasting varieties of tomatoes ripen green, many people will not even try them, that is their loss.

Where to get Snow White tomatoes

Seeds of snow white tomatoes are reasonably simple to find in Australia.  Snow white tomato seed seems to be carried by a few different sellers as well as ebay.  I have saved seed from my plants and will most likely sell some on my for sale page with other heirloom vegetables and perennial vegetables.

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