Here’s a totally different kind of tomato you might want to try, especially now that the plants are becoming more widely available.
The Tomaccio™ (toe-MAH-chee-oh) is a cherry tomato claimed to be derived from wild Peruvian tomato species after 12 years of research by Histil, an Israeli nursery. The plant is an early producer (60 to 80 days) and forms a tall indeterminate plant, so use an extra-large tomato cage. It can produce up to 13 to 18 pounds of fruit per plant.
You can, of course, eat the very sweet fruits fresh off the vine, but the whole idea with Tomaccio™ tomatoes is that they are designed for drying, giving extra-sweet dried tomatoes you can eat like raisins.
Harvest them for drying when the fruit starts to soften and slightly wrinkle on the vine. In arid climates, you can dry them outdoors in the sun. Elsewhere, try 12 hours in a food dehydrator or dry them for 2 to 3 hours in a 200–300 degree oven (but check often: oven results are variable). Mine dried just fine spread on a cookie sheet and placed for a day in the window of my car parked in full sun.
The dried fruits can be storied for months in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer. You can use them directly on pizza and in Mexican food, add them to recipes, eat them like raisins or plump them up in oil for a juicy snack.
How to Grow Tomaccio™Tomatoes
Just grow your Tomaccio™ tomato plant like any other tomato plant: in full sun in rich, well-drained soil, either in the ground or in containers (2 gallons/7.5 L or larger). Wait until the air has warmed up (14–17ºC [56–62ºF] nights, 23–30ºC [73–86ºF] days) before planting them out. Fertilize at planting with your favorite all-purpose organic slow-release fertilizer and complete with seaweed fertilizer during the summer. Keep well watered as the flowers and fruit grow, but cut back slightly on watering at harvesting time.
One suggestion from Histil: pinch off the very first flower stalk. This will slightly delay harvesting, but it helps ensure strong early growth and maximum yields.
Plants, Not Seeds
Did you notice the trademark symbol (™) after the plant’s name? That means it is protected by a plant patent and will only be available as plants, never as seed. Any company trying to sell seeds will likely find itself in hot water! However, if you harvest the seeds and sow them for your own use, I fail to see how Histil would even know and most tomatoes do come true or fairly true from seed.
Where to find plants? Check out local garden centers: Tomaccio™ tomatoes are out there and in greater numbers than ever. If not, try the Internet. Maybe this is the year for you to try them!