Tomato Tasting: ‘Tsygan’

Tomato 'Tsygan'

Tomato ‘Tsygan’ aka ‘Zigan’ aka ‘Gypsy’

The seeds for this tomato were sent to me by Dan & Val, two lovely folks who live a few hours away from me and have one of the most wonderful gardens I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

This is another one of those tomatoes that I had not planned at all to grow this year, but I read what little there was to read on the ‘net about this one, heard it was good for hot weather, that it didn’t crack too much, and that it produced like crazy. I definitely didn’t need any more convincing then that. Plus, I’m never one to turn down the opportunity to a) try a new variety; or b) try a new black variety.

This is another Russian open pollinated commercial tomato. I’ve come to realize that anything with “Russian open pollinated” or “Russian heirloom” in the description I will probably love. Those Russians sure know how to breed good tomatoes.

Tsygan/Zigan is the English spelling for the Russian name for this tomato, which is sometimes translated into its English ‘Gypsy’. Sometimes you’ll also find it misspelled ‘Gipsy’. Why don’t more people have spell check?

Aug 29 - Tomato 'Tsygan'

Growth Notes

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ll know we had a tough summer. Hot, dry (moreso then usual even), plants being burnt. Just check through some of the earlier entires.

So how well did this one bounce back from being burnt? Really well actually. In fact, there wasn’t too much to bounce back from. A few of the lower leaves burnt and fell off, but that didn’t stop this plant from growing. One of the first to start producing for me this year, and definitely my first black to produce and ripen. The plant was vigorous, and had a sprawling habit. I don’t really trim my tomato plants, so this one kind of went all over, it required some pretty heavy staking. It didn’t grow to the 6+ft other people had reported it grows to, mine only got about 4ft and topped out there.

Absolutely loaded with fruit, it’s a really heavy producer. It didn’t mind the heat, in fact it seemed to relish it. When the temperatures picked up to over 30C, it sent out flowers like crazy. Cracking was minimal, no catfacing, nothing major. The only time it cracked was when we went from super hot, to torrential downpour within the span of an hour (which happened a few times this summer – ah, gotta love that semi-alpine environment).

The Look

I like a tomato with green shoulders. Don’t ask me why, I just do. This tomato definitely has green shoulders, although with increased heat these subside quite a bit. The fruit is black/brown. The more heat you have, the darker the skin gets. Fruit weighed in about 100-170 grams each, some were more egg shaped, some were more rounded, but definitely more oblong then globular in shape. About 2-3″ in diameter.

The Taste

Here’s another one Mr. B and I disagreed on (see ‘German ‘Cascade’), although not quite as much as ‘German Cascade’. I loved the flavour of this one. It was nicely acidic, which is something I love in a tomato, and still had the earthy flavour you expect from a black. It wasn’t quite as hit-you-in-the-face with the earthiness as some other blacks are (like ‘Purple Prince’ or ‘Black From Tula’, let’s say), but I thought it was lovely. It also had just a little hint of saltiness to it, which I really enjoyed. Mr. B said it was one of the more bland blacks we had grown (and by “we” I mean I do the growing, and he partakes in the eating). I would use the term “more subtle” then bland.

We ate this one fresh, used it in sauce, and canned it. It worked well for all of those purposes. I think this one would make a great juice as well.

The Verdict

This is definitely one of those tomatoes I will grow religiously from now on every year. See, it’s hard to find a tomato that not only doesn’t mind the hot, dry (yet somehow still humid…) weather we have here. Water restrictions are par for the course, and a lot of tomatoes will just flail under those conditions. ‘Tsygan’ not only lived but thrived, we got tons of fruit. In a better year I wouldn’t be surprised if we got 15-20lbs of fruit per plant.

The fact that it’s an earlier variety (about 70 days), it produces like crazy, it has a lovely flavour, and it’s indeterminate have all won me over. Sure, it might not be the absolute most flavourful black in the world, but it seems to be a lot more resilient, something which I definitely need in this climate.

Originally posted @, October, 2009