Riesentraube - Best heirloom cherry tomato from seed
Big bunches of cherry tomatoes
Giant Bunches of Grapes
Riesentraube is an indeterminate, producing bunches of small fruit all summer. Originally from Germany, 'Riesentraube' translates from the German as "giant bunch of grapes". Each of the little tomatoes has a tiny pointed blossom end.
Every year my tomato garden selection includes a cherry tomato. The smallest tomatoes are the first to ripen. Do they taste so sweet because they are the first fruits of the season? Maybe. But cherry tomatoes are important crop for more reasons.
When the larger tomatoes are in abundance, these cherries go into the dehydrator. Once dried, they become my homegrown version of the sweet, rich gourmet sun-dried tomatoes. I like that I can harvest a few bunches of the one inch fruits and fill my little home dehydrator.
These small fruits have a good old fashioned tomato flavor reminiscent of the beefsteaks to come. Hold off and wait another day before you harvest, these little jewels will have a rich flavor when fully ripe. Riesentraube not as sweet a many cherries, though the sugar is concentrated in the dried tomatoes.
Bunches of Riesentraubes
Endless cherry tomatoes
Riesentraube (Solanum lycopersicum) produces about 75 days from transplant. These heirloom “giant bunches of grapes” are larger than the most cherry tomatoes, a bit over an ounce. Provide sturdy staking or caging and the plants will keep growing and producing until frost.
Find room in your garden for cherry tomatoes to win the neighborhood's “first ripe tomato” contest. Occasionally, the garden yields a few cherry tomatoes by 4th of July.
Good for salads and snacking. Many of these sweet little ones are consumed while standing in the garden. A note of caution, popping the red-ripe orbs in your mouth can become addictive. That first bite is an explosion of pure tomato flavor.
Where to buy: Find seed in a number of sites. A few sites to get started: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Baker Creek, Territorial Seed. Riesentraube is found at several garden seed sites. I mention these companies because I have purchased seed from them and they have prompt delivery and good quality.
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Dried tomatoes flavor olive oil
Sun dried cherry tomatoes
Sun dried tomatoes are hard to find. The majority of “sun dried” tomatoes are really dried using a dehydrator. It is a cleaner, faster, safer method to preserve the tomato garden bounty.
Dried tomatoes are the quickest and most space saving way to preserve tomatoes. Drying removes the water and concentrates the sweetness of tomatoes. The final product is a sweet intense tomato flavor.
Dehydrator - Cut cherry, grape or small saladette tomatoes in half. Dry cut side up. Slice larger tomatoes just over a 1/4". lightly spray drying trays with oil. Pealing and deseeding is optional. Sprinkle lightly with salt if you like. Omitting salt gives more options when rehydrating and using in recipes
Slowly dehydrate tomatoes making sure to space tomatoes for good air circulation. If tomatoes are dried at too low a temperature, 90°F or less, the tomatoes are subject to bacteria and mold. Too high a temperature, over 170°F, actually cooks the tomato. At high heat, tomatoes can harden on the outside but remain moist inside causing spoilage.
Oven dry - Set oven temp at 140°. Place cookie cooling racks on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray the racks with oil. Slice tomatoes 1/4” thick. May take 20 – 24 hours to dry. Check periodically, removing any tomatoes that are dried.
When are they done? Properly dried tomatoes are leathery and still pliable. They should not be tacky or sticky to the touch. They should not be crispy. Allow tomatoes to completely cool before storing in an airtight container or zip-lock bag.
Riesentraube has big tomato taste
Rehydrating dehydrated tomatoes
Rehydrated tomatoes - Dried tomatoes can be added directly into the soup pot and will rehydrate in the soup broth. Use them to give an added layer of flavor to tomato or vegetable soup. Stir into stews or chili.
Pour boiling salted water or stock over dried tomatoes and let them soak for an hour. Use any remaining tomato soaking liquid in cooking.
Use - Chop or slice rehydrated tomatoes. Combine tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, herbs and serve over hot pasta.
Use on pizza, add to vegetable soup, mix rehydrated tomato bits into risotto, cheese spread or cheese balls.
More little tomatoes: Try blue tomatoes: Grow Indigo Rose tomato and other blue food
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