These are prime examples of Paul Robeson tomatoes, a Russian heirloom named for the famous singer, actor and activist.
The deep flavor of a black tomato is not easy to describe. It’s earthy but intense, sweet and tangy, smoky and bright.
My first black tomato was a Black Krim that I bought at a garden club sale a few years ago. Now my garden wouldn’t be complete without several varieties of black tomatoes growing there.
This year in addition to Black Krim, I added black cherry tomatoes and Paul Robeson tomatoes to my garden. I ordered seeds from Tomato Growers Supply in February and started them in the basement in March.
The plants were ready to place in the garden in May, but I waited for the weather to settle down which it never really did, but I planted them the second weekend in June anyway.
If you’d like to learn more about Paul Robeson and his remarkable life, PBS has a bio of him as part of its American Masters series. He absolutely deserves to have a wonderful tomato named for him.
The tomato is somewhat like he was, complex, serious and a friend to all.
I’ve found the Robeson is easier to grow than other heirlooms I’ve tried. The plants produce nice bunches of fruit on tall vines.
The Paul Robeson is an indeterminate tomato that takes 75 days to mature. The tomatoes in the photo above were planted the first week of June in Pueblo. Because of the warmer weather there, these tomatoes matured faster and were ready to pick at the end of July. Unfortunately a hail storm hit just a few days later and took out the remaining crop. With luck, there may be more tomatoes from that garden before the end of the season.
These 2 tomatoes were handled with care and eaten raw, in sandwiches and in a bread salad called Panzanella.
I’ll keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have some of my own black tomatoes, ripe and ready to eat in the next few weeks.