Tomato Tasting ‘Orange Strawberry’
Tomato ‘Orange Strawberry’
This tomato was the absolute super star of the garden this year. Big, showy, screaming “look at me!” with ever fibre of its being all summer. The seeds were sent to me by fellow tomato nut-job and enthusiast Sheena, from Ontario. This ended up being one of those “on a whim” tomatoes I started and eventually planted. Most of the yellows I grow, with the exception of ‘Yellow Pear’ and ‘Dr. Wyche’s Yellow’ are usually whim tomatoes. See, yellow tomatoes are really hit and miss. A lot more misses I find. They’re usually really bland and overly sweet, and for a girl that likes an earthy acidic tomato, they usually end up falling into the “waste of space” category for me. But, the sheer size and good things I had read about this tomato convinced me to give it a go.
I’ve previously written about this one in the blog, but here I’m going to distill and summarize everything I saw and learnt about this plant over this season.
Excuse my french, but holy shit! Okay, so I had read “needs heavy staking”. Ya, I’m a pretty good staker, I stake all my tomatoes, so I pulled out a 2×4 to stake this one. The 2×4 ended up breaking under the immense weight of this tomato over the season. No, I’m not kidding. The weight of this plant, actually broke a damned 2×4″! So first thing’s first, and I’ve discussed this at length already about our hot, dry summer that went from 10C to 30C literally over night, causing most of my plants to burn to crisps. This tomato? It didn’t burn. At all. Maybe one or two lower leaves got a little crispy, maybe. Over the course of the summer, this plant routinely grew 8-18″ per week, but on average it was about 10″ per week. The second it got REALLY hot, the thing shot up like a weed. I couldn’t believe it. Torrential downpoars, crazy wind, really hot dry weather, then really hot humid weather. Whatever nature threw at this plant, ‘Orange Strawberry’ took with grace and dignity. Nothing could phase it. It eventually got to about 7ft before the 2×4 broke, caused the plant to topple over, and snap off its top. I have no doubt it could have gotten up to 9ft if it hadn’t broken the 2×4. The strange thing is, I’ve talked to other people who have grown this tomato, ranging in area from Toronto, to Vancouver and all across the country. Nobody else has said theirs ever got over 6ft. So I don’t know what it is about my particular area (which is a really strange and specific microclimate), but this tomato loves it. And no, I didn’t use some crazy voodoo or fertilizer. It got the same treatment the rest of my tomatoes get – mushroom manure, and fishbone meal. That’s it. There was no cracking, no catfacing, no weird growth of any kind, just huge production (especially for the fruits’ size) of perfectly formed oxheart tomatoes. This is a later maturing variety, it took about 85 days to get to my first harvest.
This tomato is true to it’s name. It’s orange, and it’s strawberry (or oxheart if you prefer) shaped. The fruit are huge, the smallest one I had I believe was 8oz, the biggest was 20oz, and on average, they were about 16oz. Beautiful fruit, perfect grower, by about midseason I knew this one was a winner and I said to myself “if this one tastes as good as it grows, it’s going to be a regular for me”. The inside is absolutely solid, very few seeds or juice.
I first tasted this tomato with trepidation. Knowing how the majority of orange/yellows tasted, I didn’t want my love of this tomato to be shattered by crappy taste. So gingerly I cut it up, and took my first bite. Oh, I was so relieved! I’m generally not a huge lover of yellows because they’re so sweet. I like a tomato with good acidity to it. While ‘Orange Strawberry’ is sweet, it has a lovely complex flavour with a fruity undertone. It wasn’t bland, it wasn’t boring, it was delicious. I wolfed down the rest of the 1lb fruit immediately.
Because it’s so solid its great for making a sauce, but it definitely can’t be spiced like a normal tomato sauce because of its low acidity. Me? I just ate them as they came, I had a ton of other tomatoes for making sauce, this one I reserved just for fresh eating. Don’t even bother with the salt. Pick, eat like an apple, enjoy.
It’s really, really hard to find a tomato that will go gangbusters on me in this climate. There’s a handful that do really well, but ‘Orange Strawberry’ outpaces them all in sheer size and force of will. Definitely this is a regrower for me. Next year I know to use at least three stakes (I might do a florida weave on just this one, but I haven’t quite figured out that one yet), and give it a lot more room because I didn’t know how crazy it grew so it was a little crammed up against the corn and other tomatoes. Delicious, good grower, big showy plant. Love it, it’s my new super star.
Originally posted @ Populuxe.ca, November 2009