While attending a marriage seminar on communication, Tom and his wife Peg listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He asked Tom, "Can you describe your wife's favorite flower?" Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn't it?" The rest of the story is not pleasant. —Author unknown


'Tomaccio' tomatoes—all they're cracked up to be?

Now that tomato season is winding down, it’s time for an update on the new ‘Tomaccio’ (TM) gourmet cherry tomato (billed as a “sweet raisin tomato”) which will be available in American markets next year. This spring, I received six plants from the propagation company, C. Raker & Sons (thank you very much!) to trial in my garden.

Tomaccio tomato/Deb Wiley photo

Tomaccio tomato/Deb Wiley photo

My friend Jeanne, who helped me out by taking one of the five extra Tomaccio plants, experienced a somewhat common tomato problem:

“The Tomaccios were abundant but nearly every one of them developed a crack. Lack of water? Or blight? … If I snagged the little guys when they were green and let them ripen on the deck or in the kitchen, they were fine. But as soon as they started to pink up the cracks developed. My yellow pears were fine and my heirlooms did really well.”

Jeanne, it turns out that some tomatoes have a tendency to crack when they get irregular watering. If they’ve gone through even a short period of being too dry, when they get watered the inside starts growing and swelling up faster than the skin can keep pace, thus the cracking.

You can still eat a cracked tomato, but obviously it won’t last as long.

I also had this problem of the Tomaccio cracking, so I made an effort to water my container EVERY DAY and the problem went away. The photo above shows a sprig of Tomaccios plucked right off today’s plant.

Since the main selling point of the Tomaccio was that it would dry (either in the oven or allegedly on the vine) into a sweet raisin type of snack, I did my own test, using regular cherry tomatoes and Tomaccio.

Tomaccio test/Deb Wiley photo

Tomaccio test/Deb Wiley photo

The directions called for putting the fruit in a 105-degree oven for 3 hours. I found it took at least another hour longer to dry them down.

Drying fruits or vegetables intensifies their sugars. Both the regular cherry and Tomaccio turned out well, but it was true:

The Tomaccio was slightly larger and had a distinctively sweeter, more tomato-y flavor. It was as good or better as any sun-dried tomato I’ve paid big bucks for at the grocery store.

My conclusion: If you want to small cherry tomatoes to eat fresh, don’t bother with Tomaccio. But if you want to dry tomatoes for later use, I do recommend you try the “sweet raisin tomato,” Tomaccio.

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