• Andrew McKenna

A flavour bomb

It's been a bad year for tomatoes in central Victoria.

Dry and hot used to be good conditions for growing tomatoes. Nearby Bendigo was at one time a major tomato growing centre, but not any more. It’s now probably too hot and definitely too dry.

Our tomatoes mostly struggled. I planted Oxhearts and Golden Pears, Black Russians and San Marzanos. In January we suffered a heatwave with temperatures reaching the mid forties. February cooled off so much that some days felt like autumn, with that coolness in the air and the feeling that colder weather wasn’t that far off, but then it heated up again, and after the hottest summer on record, we also had the hottest start to autumn in 30 years.

And then suddenly it looks as if it's all over. Yesterday was in the high thirties and today is about 18, and it feels cold.

Of those tomato varieties only the San Marzanos did well, and they did extraordinarily well.

They were the only ones to bear consistently, and prolifically. While some of the plants are now crisp and dry, the San Marzanos are still lush and green and covered in ripe fruit.

An Italian tomato, they’re firm and sweet, elongated with a pointy end, not fat like the Romas. They tend to a bit of brown rot on one end, but that’s easily cut off. They’re not a large tomato, but they are flavour bombs.

They went beautifully for morning tea with our Lemon Myrtle Macadamia Nutcheese. Cheese, tomatoes, a bit of bread and cucumber. There must be something about those umami flavours that just hits the spot.

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