Cherokee Chocolate Tomato
This beautiful bruiser is full of the smoky rich taste we crave in dark tomatoes. Vigorous stocky plants are one of the first large varieties to ripen. Prolific producer of smooth round tomatoes that are easy slicers; they also cook into a quick delicious sauce.
Cherokee Chocolate began as a chance mutation of skin color in a stand of Cherokee Purple tomatoes grown by Craig LeHoullier of Raleigh, North Carolina. The yellow pigment of the skin gives Cherokee Chocolate its mahogany color (Cherokee Purple’s skin pigment is clear, making the tomatoes more pinkish purple). Craig stabilized the Chocolate variety in 1995. Controversy abounds in regard to the relative merits of the two varieties, with many people calling them equally fabulous and some claiming Cherokee Chocolate superior. No one says Cherokee Purple is better.
Culture: Start seeds indoors six weeks before last frost. Good soil, full sun, and plan to cage or stake them.
Saving seed: You’ll need to separate this variety from other tomatoes by 150 feet. One hundred feet will do if there are significant barriers like buildings or dense tall plants in between. Save seeds from a minimum of 10 plants.
You can eat your tomatoes and save seeds too. Just wait until they are very ripe (over-ripe is fine for seed-saving too). Scoop seeds and the gelatinous goop around them into a container and set the mess aside until the top is covered with mold (2-7 days, depending on temperatures). Then rinse well and dry the seeds on a screen or wax paper. The seeds have a protective coating that keeps them from germinating while still inside the juicy fruit; enzymes in the mold dissolve that coating.