Japanese Black Trifele Tomato
This potato-leafed indeterminate with the mysterious name is one of our favorite tomatoes. Pear-shaped mahogany-colored fruit vary in size from a thumb to a fist, with a fantastic smoky sweet taste, like a complex BBQ sauce. They’re great as a quick pan sauce for meats and stir-fries, and also delicious fresh. No blemishes and firm flesh make a good-looking tomato, and the plants are unbelievably productive, continuing into cold fall weather.
Japanese Black Trifele comes from Russia, or more accurately from the former U.S.S.R. Trifele means truffle in Latvian. An agricultural research station near St. Petersburg acquired seeds and a Japanese botanist there worked with the variety. Or so the story goes…
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 heirloom 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.