It is miserable hot, but the dogs still need their relief walks. This afternoon, I took Luke to the back field to check on the irrigation lines.
The switches for the drip tape are bright red — the same shade one expects from a tomato. I’d been fooled before as I quickly scanned the base of the tomato plants, looking for the first ripe tomato.
Luke, however, was lingering by a smidgeon of pink — and Ei von Phuket tomatoes are pink when ripe. I pulled back the leaves and found, as William Woys Weaver writes: “it ripens raspberry pink in clusters of 6 fruits.”
Since it’s Frank’s birthday and he loves tomatoes and cheese sandwiches, I quickly picked the ripe tomatoes and arranged them on a plate for his return from the day job.
While I waited for the tomato to ripen, Will mentioned that in the green stage, this tomato is used extensively in Thai curries and stir fries. If you enjoy Thai cuisine and want to use it unripe, pick the tomatoes when they are greenish-white, like this:
Will says the following about the history of this tomato:
“For Americans this is perhaps an awkward mouthful, but the truth of the matter is, this is the German-tourist name for an excellent Thai tomato from the island of Phuket. The Roughwood Seed Collection acquired seed for this tomato in 2000 from a German who had been there. We are not certain what Thais call the tomato but it is one of their best: as the German name implies, it is egg-shaped, greenish-white while unripe, then it ripens raspberry pink in clusters of 6 fruits. Its flavor as a green tomato is mild, thus it is used extensively in Thais curries and stir fries; the ripe fruit is fruity so it is often used in desserts. If you cook Southeast Asian, this tomato ought to be part of your basic vegetable pantry.
One more thing: most of the local growers of Ei von Phuket were wiped out in the tsumami that struck Thailand a few years ago; this island was one of the worst hit and the salt water from the tidal wave destroyed thousands of acres of farmland. In that sense Ei von Phuket remains a fitting memorial to the people who perished and who were never found, not to mention the delicate situation in the world of heirloom foods where a cataclysmic disaster can cut us off from crops we take for granted.”
As a plant, Ei von Phuket has been an enthusiatic grower, but not so much so that the Florida Weave didn’t contain the plants. We’ve had no disease or pest problems with it and a side-dressing of gypsum has kept blossom end rot away. If you want green tomatoes for Thai cooking, it has many many fruits that hold on the plant for a decent interval. We expect a bountiful harvest of ripe tomatoes, also. I haven’t tried the tomatoes yet as it’s Frank’s birthday and I want him to be able to try them first, but I’m sure a postive review of Ei von Phuket’s flavor and ripe cooking potential will follow soon!