Awhile back I announced a new series of articles for Mother Earth News that will focus on the best tasting vegetables as determined by gardeners. For those of you who missed it, here are the details:
Mother Earth News will publish a series of articles on best tasting vegetables, starting in 2003. I’ll be the series editor.
Mother’s “Cream of the Crops” series will profile varieties nominated by gardeners from across the continent. The primary criteria for inclusion is flavor. What we’re trying to do is identify the best tasting vegetables as determined by real gardeners and market growers.
MEN invites all of you to nominate varieties with exceptional flavor by contacting me at, Brook Elliott, Box 519, Richmond, KY 40476, BrookBarb@aol.com.
Nominating your favorites is simple. All we need from you is the name of the variety, and why you think it’s the best tasting of that vegetable type. We’re dividing vegetables into several categories, and you’re certainly welcome to nominate in more than one of them. The categories are: Solanaceae (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants); Cucurbits (cucumbers, squashes, melons); Brassica (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowers, kohlrabi), Legumes (all peas and beans); Roots (all roots, even though they belong to other families, including turnips, beets, carrots, salsify, potatoes, radishes, etc.); Garden Greens (lettuce, spinach, rocket, mustard, kale, chard, mache, etc.); Alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, shallots); Corn; and Miscellaneous (all common veggies not included above, such as okra, celery, grains, etc.).
If we get enough submissions, we’ll even subdivide the categories. For instance, we might separate tomatoes by type (i.e., beefsteak, paste, oxheart) or by color. So don’t hesitate to send nominations by subdivision if you like.
We need you to actually describe the taste. Don’t merely say, “it’s good tasting.” Tell us why; using terms like full bodied, meaty, sweet, acidic, earthy, complex flavor, firm texture, juicy, tender, and so forth. In other words, convince us and our readers that we’ll agree with your choice. Here, for instance, is how I would describe Cherokee Purple tomatoes: “An earthy, complex flavored tomato, sweet and acidic at the same time; decadent with an overlay of sin. Firm fleshed, with enough juice to be a good slicer, but not so much that it makes a watery sauce.”
You’re certainly welcome to nominate in more than one category. As soon as I hear of your interest, I’ll send you detailed instructions for nominating your favorites.
I’m really excited about editing this new series. But it won’t work without your help. So, if you’re interested in contributing, be sure and let me know, and I’ll send you the details right away.
You can send your nominations to Brook Elliott, Box 519, Richmond, KY 40476. Or email them to me at BrookBarb@aol.com.
If you need more details, let me know and I’ll get them out to you.
This message was edited Wednesday, Jul 24th 6:52 AM
Ooops! I've been so busy that I filed this so far back in my mental rolodex that I forgot all about it! I'll e-mail ya', 'cause Kenny and I LOVE cream peas, pineapple tomatillos and yellow pear tomatoes.
we have been eating fresh homegrown tomatoes for about two weeks now here in zone 4/5 they are stokes ultra sweet tomatoes very good tasting sweet and not much acid no green shoulders kind of small about 6 to 8 ounces they are determinate
i started them in the greenhouse on march 15 and they were transplanted into bigger containers as needed so they were pretty big by the time i planted them out on june first i think anyone with a short season should try this one
When I announced my new Cream of the Crops series in Mother Earth News we had a restriction that seed for the nominated varieites had to be readily available, so our readers could order it if they wanted to. After all, there's nothing as frustrating as hearing about a flavorsome vegetable, and then not being able to grow it.
To my mind, this created a problem. To wit: how to handle the myriad of great tasting family heirlooms, or other veggies for which there was no commercial seed source, and which were not listed by recognized seed saving organizations such as SSE, GSHSS and Native Seeds/SEARCH.
Here's how we've resolved it: Anybody who wants to nominate such a variety may do so, if they are willing to sell seed to MEN's readers. We require that you have at least 50 packets available for sale, containing a minimum of 25 seeds. You're free to set your own price.
If you nominate in this category, I need you to identify the variety as a family heirloom, and provide the price per packet, and an ordering address.
For more details about nominating in this group, or for nominating a variety in general, please contact me directly at BrookBarb@aol.com.
Oh, man! The two varieties I wanted to nominate, Cream Cowpeas and Texas Wild Tomatoes, aren't widely available I don't think. I think the companies I obtained plants/seeds from, Lone Star Seeds out of San Antonio (peas) and a little family-owned nursery in Georgetown ('maters) don't do mail-order!!! I didn't plant he peas this year, but did the tomatoes and would be willing to offer seed if I had it. I'll see if I can coax the tomato plants I have along to produce more seed so I can offer them ~ maybe I'll start playing some Barry White on the garden stereo. ;)
Put the word "Texas" in front of "Cream", Wingnut, and you'll find that seed is available. Several ways, in fact, as there is a simple Texas Cream cowpea, a Texas Cream 12, and a Texas Cream 40. The 40 is, perhaps, the most commonly available.
They're also listed in some places as "conch" peas.
So, send on the write-up. I'll get the seed sources listed.
As per offering seed, it doesn't take too many tomatoes to get enough seed for 50 trades. I was curious about this, because people are always [deleted] about not having enough seed. So I've started to count. A friend gave me three Black Plum tomatoes, from which I got 195 seed. That from a variety that isn't particularly seed heavy.
At a guess, I would say that a dozen tomatoes, or most varieties, would provide more than enough seed to list.
Do you think these were Texas Cream? The package just said "Cream Cowpeas". I saw the "Texas Cream" varieties, but hesitated to assign that name to them as I didn't want to pass on disinformation (?). I guess I could e-mail Lone Star Seeds and ask. They sure were good!
The tomatoes ~ they're a grape or currant variety. They do produce a lot usually, but slow way down when it gets hot so I hadn't seen many on the vines. I just went to check the plants and found atleast 20 green fruit on them. When will this be published? If in a month, that should be plenty of time for the fruit to ripen, seeds to ferment and me to get them packaged for distribution. How exciting!
I'll do the writeups and get them to you by this weekend ~ is that enough time?
No rush on the write-ups. I've already filed the first two installments. The first will run in the December issue, and the second in the February.
What I'm trying to do is build the files so that I have choices when it comes time to write an installment.
As per pix, they don't want digitals emailed, because it takes up too much space, and too long to download. If you can send them on a CD, that's acceptible. But, ultimately, they really prefer either slides or prints.