Tomatoes for Stuffing

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Stuffing tomatoes come in unusual shapes and colors, like this orange and red Striped Cavern.
At first glance Yellow Stuffer appears to be a bell pepper, but it is actually a tomato.
Stuffing tomatoes come in unusual shapes and colors, like this orange and red Striped Cavern.Click To Enlarge

Stuffing tomatoes come in unusual shapes and colors, like this orange and red 'Striped Cavern'.

Photo: Marc Vassallo

by Chris Blanchard
August 2000
from issue # 28

I’ve seen my share of tomatoes. As a garden manager at Heritage Farms’ Preservation Gardens at Seed Savers Exchange, I grew and evaluated more than 500 varieties. Many of them were marvelous, tasty, bright, and flavorful. None engaged me more than the varieties that resemble bell peppers and make such colorful vessels for stuffing.

Like bell peppers, stuffing tomatoes have a hollow cavity in the fruit. They don’t have the partitions packed with gel and seeds found in other tomatoes. Instead, the fruit holds just a small seed cluster that looks like a strawberry, so it’s easy to prepare the cavity for stuffing. But convenience has its cost: These varieties are not as flavorful as other types. The flesh, however, is firmer, which helps these tomatoes stand up to stuffing.

Stuffing tomatoes probably emerged as garden flukes, which amateur breeders and small seed companies have kept going. They lack the broad appeal that would attract a large commercial venture, but you can easily grow your own from seed. Don’t wait for stuffing tomatoes to come to a produce counter near you because they probably won’t. Give them a try in your garden.

If you routinely grow healthy tomato plants, you can easily grow stuffing varieties by following the same practices. Preventing blight will be more important because you’ll be using them as edible bowls, and cutting out blemishes in the walls won’t be an option. Pruning out suckers increases air circulation, which helps fend off blight, and consistent watering helps prevent blossom-end rot.

Many red stuffing tomatoes are available, but I prefer the more exotic color schemes. Of all the stuffing tomatoes I have tried, the pleated, pink ‘Zapotec Ribbed’ has the best flavor. ‘Yellow Stuffer’ has four distinct lobes, like a bell pepper, and vibrant color. Other stuffing tomatoes, such as ‘Liberty Bell’, share the same shape, but ‘Yellow Stuffer’ is larger and more regular.

My favorite is ‘Striped Cavern’, a small tomato with orange and red stripes. The unusual colors allow for a striking presentation. It looks especially nice sharing a plate with ‘Green Zebra’, a similarly sized stuffing tomato with green and yellow stripes.

Sources
The following sources carry the best selection of the tomatoes mentioned in this article.

Tomato Growers Supply
PO Box 60015
Fort Myers, FL 33906
1-239-768-1119
www.tomatogrowers.com

Totally Tomatoes
334 W Stroud Street
Randolph, WI  53956
www.totallytomato.com


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Comments (1)

MadelynnF writes: These are EXCELLENT tomatoes, large with a great flavor. The prices at both places listed above are very reasonable but shipping is ridiculous. Over $5 even if you only order 1 pkt of seed. That makes a packet of 25-30 of these cost right around $8.
You can find them on eBay cheaper.
Posted: 8:29 pm on April 8th
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