Violet Jasper Heirloom Tomatoes
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|Food Buzz: History of Tomatoes|
Violet Jasper tomatoes have a beautiful violet-purple and red color with bright green stripes. They’re small, averaging one to three ounces, and they have a smooth, slightly thick skin, which helps to keep them from cracking. The flesh is meaty and the flavor is rich and tangy-sweet. Violet Jasper tomato plants are an indeterminate variety, meaning that they continue to grow and set fruit all season along sprawling vines, and they’re known to bear an abundance of the vibrant fruit in clusters. It can be difficult to tell when Violet Jasper tomatoes are ripe, but the key is to watch the green striping, which changes shades as the fruit matures and becomes opalescent as the flesh darkens to purplish-red.
Violet Jasper tomatoes are available in the summer.
Violet Jasper tomatoes are known to be a good seller at farmers markets because of their eye-catching coloring. Like all tomatoes, Violet Jasper is a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family, and is botanically referred to as Lycopersicon esculentum. However, after years of preference for the name and authority Lycopersicon esculentum, modern evidence is promoting a return to the tomato’s original botanical classification, Solanum lycopersicum.
Tomatoes, including Violet Jasper, are known for having a large amount of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that is thought to be highly effective in scavenging cancer-causing free radicals. Tomatoes are also a rich source of Vitamins A and C, as well as Potassium, which is important for nerve health, and iron, which is important for blood health.
Violet Jasper tomatoes add a beautiful pop of color to fresh salads, party trays, salsas, or kabobs. They can be eaten fresh, cooked, or even dried. They pair well with Italian herbs and spices, such as oregano and garlic, and soft cheeses like mozerella. They can also be paired with bacon, rice, mushrooms, onion, avocado, strawberries, chickpeas, eggs, fennel, parsley, and sweet herbs such as mint. Violet Jasper tomatoes can be difficult to harvest at the right time, and their full flavor can suffer if picked too early, however they can always be ripened in a paper bag if picked too soon. Store Violet Jasper tomatoes at room temperature until fully ripe, after which refrigeration can slow the process of decay.
The Violet Jasper tomato originated in China, where it is known as Tzi Bi U. It was introduced in China along with a related variety called Huan U, known in the United States as the topaz tomato, named for it’s yellow coloring. Violet Jasper is slightly smaller than its counterpart topaz, and also slightly less sweet.
Violet Jasper is an heirloom variety from China that was first introduced by a member of Seed Savers Exchange in 2009. It is typically a low maintenance cultivar that is easy to grow as long as basic soil, sun and water preferences are met, therefore it can produce well in most regions of the United States.