Cherry tomatoes have never been what I would consider an important part of my summer gardens. I’ve grown one or two each year for snacking and salads, but they haven’t been useful for much else. My Grandaddy Joe always told me I was silly for growing them. He couldn’t stand those thick skinned little things. But, Black Cherry Tomatoes don’t have those thick skins. Their rich taste, thin skins, and versatility put them in a class all their own.
Last summer I grew Black Cherry Tomatoes for the first time and I will never again plan my summer garden without providing a space for them. By “a space”, I mean a big space with the tallest and strongest tomato cages I can find. These plants are beasts! The fruits might be small, but the plants are huge and vigorous vines. I planted 4 of them last year and they all very quickly outgrew the 5 foot tall tomato cages I had planned on containing them. They spilled over the top of the cages and rambled over the entire raised bed. By the end of the season, some of the plants reached well over 15 feet, even after being repeatedly cut back. These things are the kudzu of night shades. But, they are deserving of the space they take up because they are non-stop producers of incredibly delicious tomatoes.
Like many other dark tomatoes, Black Cherries are sweet with a distinctive rich flavor. These plants pack all of the power of a Cherokee Purple or Black Krim into tiny little bite sized jewels. I used these beautiful little tomatoes countless ways last summer because they never stopped producing. When roasted, the rich flavor of these little jewels is magnified. Salsa made with them has deep layers of flavor that shine through the acid. Simple angel hair pasta with blistered Black Cherry Tomatoes is an ellegant and easy summer meal. They were perfect cooked and perfect for snacking. We enjoyed them all Summer and well into the fall.
These three pictures are a sample of daily harvest from our garden last year. The first is from the earliest Summer pickings and the last is from one of the latest fall harvest. The Black Cherry Tomatoes were one of the first crops to come in and one of the last crops to linger into fall.
We tried to keep up with the production of our 4 Black Cherry Tomato plants, but we could not eat them all fast enough, so I roasted and froze the extras. I was worried that the skins would be tough once they were thawed and put into a dish, but they are not even noticable at all. Unlike most cherry tomatoes, these have thin and tender skins. They have added fresh summer tomato flavor to soups, stews and pastas all winter long. We have 1 quart sized bag left in the freezer and I will be tossing it in an angel hair pasta dish very soon. It has been so nice to have these little flavor bombs in the freezer. They have helped me to make it through one of the hardest parts of winter, missing fresh summer tomatoes.