Black Zebra Tomatoes
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|Food Buzz: History of Heirloom Tomatoes|
The Black Zebra tomato closely resembles the Green Zebra in size and shape, perfectly round and approximately four to five centimeters in diameter. Its exterior is purple and mahogany in color with vertical deep-green streaks, and it has a solid mahogany interior flesh. Its flavor is exceptionally rich and complex with hints of smoke and sweetness, indicative of its black tomato parentage. Black Zebra tomato plants are classified as indeterminate, as the fruit they produce ripens over an extended period, and they are known for being vigorous, abundant producers with good disease resistance and drought tolerance.
Black Zebra tomatoes are available in the summer and in the fall.
The Black Zebra tomato is a relatively new addition to the zebra tomato family. These Black Zebra tomatoes come from Kong Thao Farms near Fresno, CA. They are botanically classified as Lycopersicon esculentum 'Black Zebra', or alternatively, Solanum lycopersicum 'Black Zebra', as some horticulturists now argue for a return to the original classification based on modern molecular DNA evidence.
The purple pigmentation of the Black Zebra tomato’s skin boasts high levels of anthocyanins, disease fighting compounds that may help fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and slow the process of aging. Including anthocyanin-rich foods as part of a regular, healthy diet may also protect against coronary heart disease. In addition, tomatoes contain generous amounts of vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining good vision, and vitamin C, a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can improve the immune system’s response to infection and bacteria.
Black Zebra tomatoes are the ideal size for slicing into wedges for salads, skewering for kebabs, or hollowing out to be stuffed. Due to their rich and complex flavor, heirloom tomato varieties like Black Zebra are best when left raw, or cooked just enough to warm them up. They can be used in almost any recipe that calls for traditional tomatoes. Try sautéing with garlic and olive oil to add to your favorite pasta, grilling to top off a salad or burger, or dicing and tossing with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper for a simple bruschetta to serve on slices of toasted baguette and garnish with fresh basil. To maintain their best flavor, keep Black Zebra tomatoes at room temperature until ripe and ready to use. Refrigeration can then be used to slow the process of decay and prevent further ripening, as well as keep sliced tomatoes for up to two days.
Black tomatoes are native to Southern Ukraine along the Crimean Peninsula. They were originally restricted to just a handful of recognizable varieties until soldiers returning home from the Crimean War in the early 19th century distributed the seeds throughout Western Russia. There are now at least fifty varieties of black tomatoes found in the areas of the former Soviet Union, as well as a dozen other varieties that have been harvested elsewhere, such as in Germany and the United States.
The Black Zebra tomato is an heirloom cross between a black tomato and the Green Zebra tomato. The Green Zebra tomato variety was developed by potato and tomato breeder, Tom Wagner, in the 1980s, and is now considered to be a classic among striped and bi-color tomatoes. Wagner used four heirloom tomatoes, including Evergreen, a medium-size green tomato, to breed the Green Zebra, named for its characteristic dark green and yellow stripes. In 1983, Wagner introduced the Green Zebra tomato in his Tater-Mater Seed Catalog.
Recipes that include Black Zebra Tomatoes. One is easiest, three is harder.
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