Tomato Tasting: ‘Black Sea Man’
Tomato ‘Black Sea Man’
Ah, ‘Black Sea Man’. Be still my beating heart. I don’t quite remember where my original seed was sourced from a few years ago and how I first came upon this tomato. If I had to guess, I’d probably say Gayla originally sent me some seeds, but I can’t be positive. However, ever since I received these seeds, this tomato has been one of the standards in my garden.
The stories behind this tomato are varied. It’s possibly the same as ‘Chernomor’ which literally translates “Black Sea Man” from Russian. This tomato may or may not be an heirloom, but it most decidedly is Russian, and it is delicious. See? I tell you, those Russians know about tomatoes. I don’t know what they do over there to them, but it’s magic. I’ve never met a Russian tomato I didn’t like.
I’ve grown this tomato faithfully in two different climates – the easy going temperate climate on the coast, and the markedly harsher, hotter, more volatile climate in the Kootenays. In both locations, it’s always done extremely well, this is a very adaptable tomato. Coupled with the fact it’s an early variety in my mind says it’d probably do well anywhere. I’ve heard of it grown everywhere from cool short climates to extremely hot balconies. In the ground or in pots, it will thrive (and that’s speaking from experience). For a determinate, it gives a lot, but asks very little. I must admit, 2009 was the best year I’ve ever had with my determinates, which sounds strange because a good portion of my indeterminates didn’t do well. Not sure what that was about. Either way, since 2006, this has been a faithful and giving tomato in my garden. In 2009 I got 5.5lbs/plant. Considering what a hard year that is, that ain’t not bad. This is not one of the tomatoes that absolutely will not crack, but if it does it’s usually only under the most extreme circumstances – like after a torrential downpour after a period of water rationing. Even then, you only get the smallest of cracks near the top of the fruit (as pictured in the first photo). The first two or three fruit of the plant are usually about 340g to 450g (12-16oz), but then the subsequent fruit is more in the 250g range (about 10oz). ‘Black Sea Man’ requires heavy staking as the fruit produce, otherwise the whole plant will flop right over and break under the fruit’s weight. This tomato usually takes about 65 days to reach maturity.
I love this tomato for all its green shoulder, misshapenness. The first few fruit are usually a pretty uniform beefsteak shape, but then whatever reason, the remaining fruit are usually a bit more misshapened – most likely due to the fact that they’re all just growing up against one another. A black tomato, the fruit will get darker the more sunlight it has. If you don’t like green shoulders, steer clear of this one, as the fruit will always have green shoulders. I personally am a fan of the green shoulders, so there you have it. Inside it’s your typical beefsteak, medium sized cavities, average amount of juiciness. Nice meat, and not the juiciest tomato ever, but still with a good amount of it.
There’s a reason why I grow this tomato every single year, and not only because of the ease with which it grows in different situations. I have noticed however that with more sun, and deeper colour, the flavour is definitely more rich. I like to use this one as a slicer for sandwiches, or cutting it into chunks and throwing it into a salad. Eating fresh off the vine with just a little salt is always delicious as well. Since it’s a nice meaty tomato, I’ve successfully used it in sauces as well to add a lovely rich taste. It’s a great all purpose tomato, I haven’t found a use that it isn’t good for (yes, I’ve even canned them with success!).
Well, the verdict was obviously made back at the end of 2006 after I grew this tomato for the first time – it’s been a staple in my garden ever since. I love the varieties that I know will do well in pots with a bit of mistreatment (I’m definitely not as consistent with container watering as I am with the plants in the ground), and this one can tolerate just about everything. The great thing with it being a determinate, you can let it grow for the rest of the season as an ornamental (I love the look of tomato plants), or you can rip it out and plant some leafy greens in its place when the plant is finished fruiting. Will I grow again? Most definitely, and I recommend this black tomato for anybody who’s growing in containers, cool climates, or rough hot climates. It’s adaptability is amazing.
Originally posted @ Populuxe.ca in December, 2009