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Paul Robeson Heirloom Tomatoes
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Paul Robeson tomatoes have a dusky, brick-red exterior with dark green shoulders. This beefsteak-type tomato has a round, slightly flattened shape, and grows about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Its crimson red flesh has a smooth texture, and offers a richly sweet, smoky taste with a hint of tanginess, most comparable in flavor to the black krim tomato, though they each bring a distinctive earthy taste to the table. The juicy Paul Robeson tomato boasts a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. The vigorous tomato plant is early-bearing and extremely productive, and as an indeterminate variety it will continue to produce the 7 to 12 ounce flavorful fruit all season long.
Paul Robeson tomatoes are available early summer.
Tomatoes, originally termed Solanum lycopersicum by Carl Linnaeus, are botanically referred to as Lycopersicon esculentum, although modern studies are encouraging a return to the original classification. Paul Robeson tomatoes are a Russian heirloom variety that continues to be a favorite in taste test competitions, and that has gained somewhat of a cult following among seed savers.
Paul Robeson tomatoes are rich in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. They are also a good source of lycopene, a natural antioxidant known to prevent cancer. Research shows that the protective effects of tomatoes against prostate cancer and heart disease result from the synergy of lycopene and other phytonutrients that are naturally present in whole tomatoes. The darker maroon-purple coloring of some of these tomatoes is the result of an increased level of anthocyanin, a natural pigmentation with strong antioxidant benefits. Anthocyanin has been studied for its ability to help fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and slow the aging process.
Paul Robeson is a beefsteak-type tomato, and its size and shape lend itself well for slicing atop salads and sandwiches, or it can be used in making a smoky-sweet tomato sauce. Its earthy flavor may also work nicely for use in juices and cocktail drinks. Tomatoes can be paired with savory herbs like parsley, chives and celery leaf, and they can also be combined with more desert-type herbs like mint, lemon balm, and the fruity sages. For salads, pair with any leafy vegetable, like lettuce or spinach, and for cooked dishes pair with garlic, basil, oregano or shallots. Try drizzling slices of Paul Robeson tomatoes with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, or topping with fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Like all tomato varieties, Paul Robeson tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until ripe, after which refrigeration can slow the process of decay.
This tomato is named for Paul Robeson, the charismatic and famous actor, opera singer, and civil rights activist. His talent was admired world-wide, especially in the Soviet Union, where he became a hero for his activism during the McCarthy era.
The Paul Robeson tomato originates from Siberia, and was first introduced to the United States by Moscow private seed seller, Marina Danilenko, in the mid-1990s. As this Russian heirloom sets fruits at lower temperatures, it is a great choice for cooler climates and growing regions.