Sunday, October 3, 2010

Central Coast Tomato Taste Tests 2010 - Black Zebra

The next tomato up on the chopping block is Black Zebra.

Seed Catalog Description:
A natural and stabilized cross between Green Zebra and a black tomato by Jeff Dawson. This is one of the STARS of my whole tomato showcase. A proven success with markets and friends. Our TomatoFest organic tomato seeds produce vigorous, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that produce 4 oz., 1 1/2", juicy, round tomatoes with purple/mahogany-colored skin with green stripes (like brush strokes) with exceptionally rich, complex, really delightful tomato flavors that contain hints of smoke and sweetness. Its flavor also carries the rich complexity associated with the best of black tomatoes. This this is one of our favorites for looks and taste. A winner! Once tried, you will keep this black tomato a place in your garden.

Production and Earliness: 
Black Zebra hasn't produced many fruit so far...only a couple of handfuls in the last few weeks.  I imagine that it will only produce a few more fruits this year, judging by the amount that has set on the plant.  Not an early variety...mid- to late-season.
Fruit Size, Color, and Shape:
The fruit size is quite small: from 0.5 to 1.5 ounces.  I have a hunch that these tomatoes would be bigger if they had been grown in a hot summer climate.  The color is beautiful!  The picture above doesn't do them justice.  They are striped a deep red and dark green.  The shape is round with some top- and bottom-flattening.

Plant Growth Habit:
The Black Zebra plant has grown to a medium height.  Unfortunately, it's not very vigorous and has been strongly affected by some type of disease.  I only grew one plant this year, so it's possible that a larger sample size might have produced some healthy plants.

Good texture.  The skin was a little bit thicker than I like.

Delicious!  I tasted Black Zebra, Green Zebra and Paul Robeson together and Black Zebra won for me.  It has a complex punch of flavors.  The citrus flavor of one of parents (Green Zebra) comes through and there's also a nice "black" flavor.  Sweetness is also there to balance the acidity.   Really rich flavor when a bit of salt is added.

Cooking and Serving option:
Perfect for slicing into salads or eating right off the vine! 

Is it a winner?
If I had a garden that was big enough I would definitely grow this plant every year simply because of the outstanding flavor it has.  As it stands, I plan to try it again next year and see if it grows stronger and produces more fruit.  (Oh please let it be so!)


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I'm planning to post our tomato roundup in about a week, so it will be interesting to compare notes. With our strange cold summer it's been difficult to really judge performance this year. I have varieties that have been star performers for us year over year, that were bitterly disappointing this year, and some surprises with others that have far exceeded our expectations. The question is, in a normal year, would they have done as well. Oh well, the joys of gardening, there are always surprises, and never a dull moment! :P Have your girls laid that first egg yet?

Jackie said...

Clare, I'm looking forward to your tomato round-up. For the last few years, I've been on a quest to find the best varieties for our summers. This year was a true challenge! No eggs yet...the pullets are 22 weeks old now. I can hardly wait!

meemsnyc said...

That is a pretty tomato! Thanks for the flavor profile.