Long-keeping tomatoes

mjalso(6)February 12, 2013

I had good luck last year with drying Riesentraube cherry tomatoes and using them in soups and stews. This year I'd like to try the varieties of cherry tomatoes where you pull up the whole plant and hang it in a garage or basement, then pick off fresh tomatoes into the winter months. Has anyone had any experience doing this with Principe Borghese, Grappoli D'Inverno, Ponderosa Sel Oro or other varieties? Also Golden Treasure is a golf ball sized tomato which is supposed to keep with good flavor up to 4 months if picked green and stored in the right conditions. I know these won't be as good as fresh summer tomatoes, but I'm hoping they'll be better than winter supermarket tomatoes.

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

If you have freezer space ...just freeze some better tasting toms in plastic bags

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:05AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

This year I'd like to try the varieties of cherry tomatoes where you pull up the whole plant and hang it in a garage or basement, then pick off fresh tomatoes into the winter months.

You can do that with most any variety.

I have never grown any of the varieties you list but I pull and hang Rutgers, San Marzano, Big Boy and several other varieties every year. We have a big barn that is perfect for doing it. Only limitation is the room you have in a temp protected environment.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:37PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Ildi grape tomato is promoted for this use. Some other varieties which are noted to have a "long shelf life" would be candidates for picking at a riper stage and keeping for a few weeks, including some of the firmer commercial-type varieties.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 12:09AM
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Piennolo del Vesuvio is an Italian "winter pantry" tomato. It is available from Sandhill Preservation.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:05AM
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Thanks for your replies. I hadn't thought about being able to store tomatoes that aren't advertised as long keepers. I was rereading the reviews on a couple of tomatoes I ordered from Baker Creek and found that people have had good luck storing Egg Yolk and Dr. Wyche's yellow. I have San Marzano, too, so will try hanging them in the fall.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:14AM
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spacetogrow(4 MN)

I'm planning this year to try some of the varieties you mentioned.

Last year, I grew a no name long keeper. Someone gave me a "fresh" fruit in late January, and I didn't cut into it until I needed to plant the seed in early April. It was just starting to get a little spoilage.

The ones I picked in September last year are still holding it together...inside my house at room temperature. They are kept where I can keep feeling them. If they start to soften, they get eaten up.

Long keeper tomatoes have a reputation for not being very tasty. As to the ones I'm eating, I eventually decided that they taste just fine as long as I don't expect them to taste like a tomato. These taste like some kind of vegetable - just not a tomato.

So why waste the bother? Because when I'm eying the $7.99/lb. fresh heirloom tomatoes in the store, I remind myself that I have fresh tomatoes at home. But they don't taste like tomatoes. But I have many jars of tomato sauces, juices and salsas if I want tomato flavor. The upshot of my self-arguing is that I decide I really don't need to buy tomatoes at the store after all. Otherwise, those fresh heirloom toms just look too enticing, and I can spend a bundle over a whole winter.

Now I just got some seeds for a variety called Zharif. Rumor has it that it's a tastier long keeper. We'll see.

But I think I also want to get a dehydrator. I don't have a barn, my freezer is tiny, and I've heard that dried tomatoes taste fabulous - great even for snacks. We'll see.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 4:26PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

space to grow, I bought a dehydrator for a price equivalent to a whole bunch of expensive winter grocery heirlooms (Excalibur 9-tray), and have never remotely regretted it. Most people prefer dehydrators with adjustable temperature and a timer.

One of my reasons for buying the dehydrator was to save freezer space. (Another is that I'm a short woman and enough of a klutz that canning is just not a good idea.)

I mostly cook with the tomatoes I dry; my mother is only interested in them as snacks.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 6:06PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I am trying Ruby Treasure this season.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:50PM
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spacetogrow(4 MN)

little minnie, please try to remember to report back a year from now on how the Ruby Treasure does.

missingtheobvious (and anyone else), how do you store your dried tomatoes? And how long can you store them before they go bad?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:22PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

space to grow, I keep them in regular 1 qt. canning jars. The oldest ones I've had have been about a year old. They were in fine shape when I used them -- but since I almost never munch on them uncooked, I can't say if the flavor fades.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 2:38PM
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I sealed my dehydrated tomatoes about 1/2 cup at a time with a vacuum sealer, then stored them in a big jar in the cupboard. I froze some of the sealed packets, too, but I think that's overkill. I rehydrate the tomatoes by soaking in hot water, or just toss them into soup or a stew. They taste remarkably like fresh tomatoes only sweeter. I also dehydrated cross-wise slices of eggplant and rehydrate them to use in Italian dishes with sausage, cheese and tomato sauce. Those were just stored loose in a jar.
My main purpose is to have my own home-grown veggies to last into the winter. I don't always trust what the supermarket is selling anymore.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 3:13PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Space to grow, I know what you call Zhiraf by its translated name as Giraffe and grew it quite a few years ago.

Yes, it's a long keeper but don't look for taste;

In the Fall I used to run out to the tomato patch when frost approached and pick all those with a tad of blush, wrap them in newspaper and let them ripen ,going through them several times a week to take out the rotten ones.

it didn't take me too many years before I gave up on that,that's for sure.

Below I've linked toTania's page of longkeepers and Glenn at Sandhill lists some other ones as well.

Yes, it was common to hang what are called the small winter ones in the rafters years ago, in both Italy and Spain, one can find the Italian ones easily, but not so easy to find theSpanish ones.

And it's also good to remember tha tthis was done many years ago b'c there was no refrigeration back then so perishable fruits were pickeled and/or dried


Here is a link that might be useful: Long Keeper varieties

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 7:22PM
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The original question was has anyone had experience growing the Italian winter storage tomatoes: Principe Borghese, Grappoli D'Inverno, Ponderosa Sel Oro.

I have. Principe Borghese is really a drying tomato; in Italy, (southern) they grow it, pull the entire plant and hang it outside to dry. Around here [I used to grow them in Massachusetts] the fruit will hold on the vine for a very long time. Obviously you do not dry them outside in Massachusetts, but a warm oven does a pretty good job with them.

The inverno is a large red cherry (maybe 2 ounces), holds well on the plant, and this is one of those plants that you pull, bring into your cantina (which most Americans do not have) and it will hold until well after Christmas.

I had the best luck with the Ponderosa sel Oro. The plant produces an enormous quantity of 2 ounce or so yellowish fruit. They will store for months. By November/December, they tasted pretty darned good.

The photo is a bunch of Ponderosa sel Oro tomatoes.

Bill McKay

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 5:23PM
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