This week I thought I would share some ideas about Beefsteak Tomatoes. If you're as keen as I am on growing all sorts of tomato varieties then I really hope that this week has been warmer in your garden than it has been here in Turangi. It has been really cold here, with nearly-snow and strong, freezing winds. It definitely has been the opposite of tomato-seedling-raising weather. It was the same last spring. Setting foot outside makes you think of snow, not summer salads and sandwiches.
This basket of tomatoes were grown in sunny Katikati when we were gardening there. Now we live somewhere a bit colder but we still hanker after a good crop of tomatoes, so we have taken some action in advance of this growing season. We have the greenhouse installed, the tomato seeds were sown about five weeks ago and are pricked out and doing well. The greenhouse is still cold overnight and on overcast days, but just the tiniest bit of sun sees the temperatures rising and the plants growing. And despite today’s freezing winds, the plants were both snug and smug under cover.
We’ve tried to grow a really wide range of tomatoes this year and one of my favourite types of tomato to grow are the beefsteak tomatoes. Why? Because you get so much bang for your buck! Same sized plant, great big tomatoes! Perfect for making up batches of tomato passata to put in the store cupboard and just great for sandwiches – one big fat slice could be enough for one sandwich!
If you want to grow great big tomatoes, you will need to give your plants plenty of room – most of these varieties will grow to a height of 1.5m or even 2m tall. With large fruit on the plants, you will need to provide the plants with solid support. Stake them well and keep tying them in as they grow. Plant into rich soil, feed the plants well and keep watered regularly throughout the growing season.
Beefsteak tomatoes ripen to full flavour under hot sun, so these varieties need to grow through the hot part of summer and are usually ready to harvest in late summer. Start the seeds early indoors, on a heat pad or in a hot water cupboard to give the seeds the warmth they need to germinate and then grow the plants on in good light conditions and plant out only when the danger of frost is over.
This year I am growing my favourite beefsteak varieties – I have a few “new” varieties in the smaller tomatoes, so for the larger ones I am sticking with my tried and true varieties, chosen partly for looks but mostly for full, deep, rich flavour. Here is what I am hoping to harvest this year:
Gorgeous coloured dusky pink tomato with a purple blush across the shoulders – good looking and really sweet and intense in flavour. When sliced into thick slices, this variety certainly shows the reason for the name beefsteak – the flesh is dark brick red with greenish gel around the seeds – it looks red and rich just like a thick slice of steak.
This variety is another favourite that we have grown through many seasons – again because it has nice texture and a really good flavour – a deservedly popular heirloom tomato variety. We’re growing Brandywine Pink, but you could also try Brandywine Yellow for a yellow coloured tomato, or you could try the Brandywine Blend, which will grow plants producing Brandywine tomatoes in pink, yellow, red and black. I’ve got my eye on those for next season! If you are keen to try a modern hybrid Brandywine, try Brandymaster F1.
This tomato variety has been in our garden every season since we first tried it. I don’t think I will ever let a summer go past without sowing Black Krim.
The tomatoes are large and are just delicious – tart and richly flavoured. They are also really gorgeous to look at. Completely a favourite of mine. I’m going to grow them next year too. And the following year…..
With all of the cherry and medium tomatoes we're growing, that is all the beefsteak tomatoes on our list for this season, but one that is definitely on my list for next year is Aunt Ruby’s German Green. It’s really time I tried this one! It looks spectacular - a beautiful green Beefsteak with Lime green gel and a Chartreuse gold centre. The fruit can weigh up to half a kg each!
If you would like some other Beefsteak options, there are plenty more in the catalogue to whet your appetite. Here are some more options:
Tomato Big Rainbow – Streaky Red and orange fruit, with a marbled interior – really pretty sliced!
Tomato Oaxacan Jewel – Yellow Beefsteak with red and orange marbling
Tomato Beefsteak Select – Bright red old-fashioned sweet flavoured, mild acid tomato.
Tomato Beef Maestro F1 – Extra-large, deep red firm fruit. Large vigorous plant.
Tomato Chef’s Choice Orange F1 – Spectacular bright tangerine, almost neon coloured tomato.
There are more! You could search “beefsteak” in our online catalogue and choose from an even larger range than this!
I wish you all the best with your tomato harvest this year.
May the soil be warm and moist and may the air be warm and dry. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for no sudden wet weeks of weather just as the fruit are growing, blighting the crop (like last year). I wish you (and I) harvest baskets and baskets of beefsteaks!