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Kalyn's Kitchen

Friday Night Photos: 2009 Garden Update #7 (Documenting My Love for Green Zebra Tomatoes)

Green Zebra TomatoesThis hasn’t been the greatest gardening year at Chez Kalyn. The summer started out with weeks of rain, I was seriously distracted by house renovations, and then I got mixed up on my renovated sprinkling system and the tomatoes went for weeks with no water. Most of my plants are just surviving, but the one very bright spot in this year’s gardening adventure is the discovery of Green Zebra tomatoes. Every year I try a few new tomato varieties, so when a fellow gardener suggested that I might like Green Zebras, I got one plant (even though I had been unenthused about Striped Zebra tomatoes last year, so don’t get confused and buy those instead.) Now it’s official, Green Zebras are my favorite tomato of all, bumping Brandywines out of the top spot!

Wikipedia claims the Green Zebra is not an heirloom tomato, but then Aunt Martha’s Garden is selling Heirloom Green Zebra seeds, and I found other places also claiming Green Zebras were heirlooms. I’m inclined to think Wikipedia is right though, because heirlooms tend to be less unformly shaped. (Links to seed purveyors are merely to illustrate the plant and are not an endorsement of that site.)

This is my attempt at showing the color changes this tomato goes through as it ripens. The small front tomato (far left) is not ripe, and the green and yellow striped tomato at the end (far right) is almost too ripe. Many times when I go out to pick these, I judge ripeness by the feel, but usually the ripe ones are starting to show at least a bit of yellow color to the skin.

A commenter on the last garden update asked if I’d show what these look like when they’re cut open, so here they are in all their lime-green deliciousness. This is a small tomato, about the size of a pool ball.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat then, simply cut into chunks, drizzled with some very good olive oil and seasoned with sea salt, then sprinkled with goat cheese. I shared this, but I could have easily eaten it all myself as a lunch.

And if you happen to be making a salad to take to dinner with friends, the Green Zebras can get along well with other tomato varieties too. (I dressed these tomatoes with basil vinaigrette and served them with lots more fresh basil cut in chiffonade strips sprinkled on top.)

If you have a garden, how’s your tomato crop doing this year? And if you have a favorite tomato, I’d love to hear what it is in the comments.

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    39 Comments on “Friday Night Photos: 2009 Garden Update #7 (Documenting My Love for Green Zebra Tomatoes)”

  1. Green Zebra was bred by Tom Wagner (who’s still very much alive) so not sure of it is really heirloom, it hasn’t been around that long yet. I always thought of heirlooms as being passed down a few generations.
    Tom Wagner has bred plenty more tomatoes as well as potatoes and knows a lot about them and even has a forum to help amateur plant breeders.

    http://tatermater.proboards.com/board/1/general-board

  2. I haven't tried growing them from seeds. As soon as tomatoes start showing up in the stores, I just keep looking until I find them. Last year I found some at Home Depot, but usually I have to get them at a garden store.

  3. I LOVE Green Zebra tomatoes but have a hard time finding them here in WA. Do you get starter plants or do you order from the Aunt Martha's seeds that you mentioned? Thanks!

  4. These tomatoes look like such fun! I'll have to keep an eye out for these ones. There is just nothing like a warm, sweet tomato straight out of the garden in the middle of summer.

  5. After a week out of town, returned to find my tomato plants in a container are okay, still green, but several have grown quite a bit; however on one side of the container, a lot of the leaves are yellow. I assume it was because I placed the container to catch the sprinkler system while I was away and it may have been over watered.
    Still thinking of those incredible green zebra tomatoes, Kalyn, from your garden. I will plant them next year.
    Cheers, Wanda

  6. Dan olive tomatoes are another variety I have never tried! (And I'm very impressed you are saving the seeds for next year's tomatoes; I usually just buy plants from the garden store!)

  7. I just started a garden this year with my spouses purcahse of 8 Olive tomatoe plants as part of a school fundraiser. Needless to say, I've got enough olive tomatoes to make salads and salsa for a long time. I recently found some green zebra tomatoes at my local farmers market and fell in love. I've saved seeds from one (the ones I got had very few seeds) and hope to get at least one plant from that for next year.

  8. Jay, another tomato variety I haven't heard of! Making a note of all these for next summer. Very jealous you have tomatoes that long; here we sometimes have tomatoes into October, but usually not much longer.

  9. We're in SoCal, where it gets over 100 degrees in the summer, so it's been a challenge for us Midwesterners to find a variety of tomato that will grow, much less thrive in this climate. The best growing tomato we've found is the Juliette, an indeterminate small plum-shaped tomato. It tastes great & will produce lots of little gems right up until Christmas or beyond, depending on when the first hard frost comes.

  10. Kelly, I've never tried growing tomatoes indoors, but it sounds interesting. Sorry to hear about the bad luck this year.

    Annalea, making a note of Matt's Wild Cherry tomato, haven't heard of that before.

  11. I'll have to try Green Zebras . . . they sure look intriguing. :o)

    My tomatoes are suffering from the fact that I have small children to take care of before the garden, and no sprinkler system. (This year's garden is in a few largish pots on the back patio, as we're in a rental, and there's no. garden. space.)

    My favorite tomato is Matt's Wild Cherry. They're currant tomatoes, no more than 1/2" across, but their flavor is the best of any tomato I've ever eaten, hands down. We got our first seeds from Johnny's, but I believe that other places have them now.

  12. I'm in Rhode Island and first we had June with no sunshine, then the blight took over. I thought my tomatoes had escaped and were going to make it, but last week I discovered blight on the fruit. Darn it! I suppose I can cut off the bad bits, cook them and can them. But it's not the same as having nice lovely fresh tomatoes.

    I have one indoor plant going and hope I can get tomatoes through the winter. I managed to force tomatoes off of my indoor plants up until January last year.

    Fingers crossed that next year is better.

  13. Flavor is subjective of course! And I kind of like tart flavors, so that might be why I like this tomato so much. I think I like the flavor best when they're barely starting to show some yellow.

    Brandywines are great too! They've been my favorite for a long time before this.

  14. I live in Utah and planted 25 tomato plants this year (first real year with tomatoe plants). I ordered an heirloom mix from White Flower Farms in Connecticut and Green Zebras was one of them. We have been enjoying them. I was wondering when to pick them. I have been picking them when they turned yellow. They are a bit tart. Are they less tart when not so yellow? Brandywine was also one of the kind in the mix and it is my new favorite. Large, beautiful fruit! Thanks for your post!

  15. Katrina and Kevin, aren't they great!

    Winnie, thanks. Got a new lens and I'm having fun with it!

    Kellypea, I agree, just tart enough to make it interesting.

    Christine, I'm glad you got that greenhouse. It's been a very weird year for tomatoes here.

    Pam, I'm guessing you'd like them a lot!

    Amy, ditto for you, I'm guessing you'll like them.

    Sonja, it sounds like I should try black zebra too for next year, thanks for the tip!

  16. Yummy! From all the heirloom tomatoes I planted this year, the green and black Zebra are by far my favorite.
    Unfortunately, all others did not turn out well… Guess it must be the wired weather this year – I live in the midwest too….

  17. I just got some green zebra tomatoes in my CSA basket along with some other beautiful heirloom tomatoes. We haven't eaten the green zebras yet so I am glad I saw your post.

  18. I have got to find some of those and try them!