Tomatoes of all varieties

Like no other vegetable, the tomato is synonymous with variety. Not only are these varieties distinctive in terms of taste, consistency, shape, colour and markings, but are also best suited to particular uses: for drying, for stuffing, for cooking down and, of course, for eating fresh. It's therefore best to use the seeds from your favourite variety.

Delicious and colourful
Tomatoes are many gardeners' favourite fruit. Virtually no other crop boasts as many different cultivars as the tomato. In recent years, the tomato has developed into the fruit with the most different varieties of all. This is presumably related to the fact that tomatoes are the most-eaten vegetable. According to the statistics in Austria, for example, pro-capita consumption amounts to 27.2 kilos per annum. The colour range of the tomato is also astounding: the ripe fruits can range from creamy white, yellow and orange through to bright red, dark red, brownish-red, pink or yellowish green. A colourful summer tomato salad made from different varieties is a feast for the eyes.
An important distinction must be made between vine and stem tomatoes. Vine tomatoes are suitable for growing in pots. They don't achieve such high yields as so-called stem tomatoes, but are usually quicker to produce the first ripe fruits. Those wishing to eat tomatoes throughout the entire year are best advised to choose their varieties according to their ripening times and cooking properties: most cocktail tomatoes ripen relatively early, followed by the round salad tomatoes. Beef tomatoes tend to ripen late. However, these keep well until Christmas and are good for cooking down, just like the classic sauce tomatoes, which hardly lose any water during reduction.

A few colours and the corresponding varieties

  • White: 'White Beauty', 'White Queen'
  • Light yellow: 'Snow White Cherry'
  • Yellow: 'Yellow Pear'
  • Orangy yellow: 'Austrian Orange', 'Auriga', 'Valencia', 'Siberian Golden Pear'
  • Green/yellow striped: 'Green Zebra'
  • Pink: 'Pink Oxheart', 'Large Bulgarian Pink', 'Egg from Phuket'
  • Red/yellow streaked: 'German Gold', 'Red Cavern'
  • Brownish-red: 'Lila Sari', 'Black Cherry', 'Black Crimea'

Harvesting your own seeds
Take the seeds from ripe tomatoes, place them in a jar and leave them, covered, in a warm place for two to three days. During this process, the germination-inhibiting layer which surrounds the seeds is removed by fungi (optimum temperature: 23-30°C) and the seeds no longer feel slimy, but rough. This usually takes one to two days. The germination-inhibiting layer is further removed when the seeds sink to the bottom and the fruit pulp collects at the top of the jar. Next, add water to the fermented liquid and wait until the seeds sink to the bottom before pouring off the fruit pulp and the useless, floating seeds. Alternately rinse with water and pour off until the water remains clear, then clean in a sieve with a strong water jet. Finally, fill the seeds portionwise into a coffee filter or spread them out in a single layer on a wooden board and dry in a warm, well-ventilated location. The seeds should be dry in two days. Fill them into sachets and label. Cucumber seeds also need to be cleaned in this way. The seeds of other fruit-vegetables (e.g. aubergines, physalis or melons) do not need to be fermented.

Andrea Heistinger

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