Our contenders for the day are two of the most adored heirloom tomatoes: the Paul Robeson tomato and the Cherokee Purple. Named after the renowned singer and civil rights advocate, the Paul Robeson is a tomato variety loved by many for its unique flavor and robust growth. On the other side of the ring, we have the Cherokee Purple, a pre-Columbian tomato variety native to the Cherokee people. With its peculiar color and rich taste, it is a beloved choice among home gardeners and chefs alike.
Both these tomato types belong to the heirloom category, characterized by their non-hybrid nature, the seeds of which can be saved and sown again. With each variety offering its unique traits, they bring a lot to the table. This article aims to shed light on their differences and similarities and help you decide which one suits your taste buds or your garden better.
Before we delve into the comparison of Paul Robeson tomato vs Cherokee Purple, let’s understand the basic characteristics of each tomato variety.
1. What are Paul Robeson Tomatoes?
Paul Robeson tomatoes are celebrated for their splendid taste. This beefsteak tomato type is a tribute to the African-American actor, singer, and civil rights advocate, Paul Robeson. The medium-sized, almost black fruits bear an exotic flavor profile that includes a good balance of sweetness and smokiness.
Paul Robeson tomatoes display a robust, indeterminate growth habit and typically need 75-85 days to reach maturity. Given their relatively short maturity time, they are a popular choice among those living in regions with a short growing season. With the right conditions, these tomatoes are prolific producers.
However, Paul Robeson tomatoes might be susceptible to diseases and might require extra care. Gardeners need to monitor their growth regularly, ensuring that they receive adequate sunlight and water.
2. What are Cherokee Purple Tomatoes?
On the other hand, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are known for their rich, sweet flavor with a hint of smokiness. As the name suggests, they have an unusual dusky pink-purple color, which stands out in any garden.
Cherokee Purples, like their competitors, are indeterminate, requiring staking or caging for support. They usually need around 80-90 days to mature, slightly longer than the Paul Robeson tomatoes. Despite the longer maturation period, they are prolific bearers, offering a steady supply of fruits throughout the season.
While Cherokee Purples are less prone to diseases compared to Paul Robeson tomatoes, they still require proper care. Regular watering and protection against pests and diseases are critical to their successful growth.
3. Flavor Profile: Paul Robeson vs Cherokee Purple
An interesting comparison of Paul Robeson tomato vs Cherokee Purple arises when discussing their flavor profiles. Both are known for their exceptional taste, often described as the quintessential tomato flavor. However, they have their unique flavor signatures.
The flavor of Paul Robeson tomatoes has been hailed as a perfect blend of sweetness and acidity, with a smoky note that adds a unique complexity. Many people believe that these tomatoes hold the very essence of what a ripe tomato should taste like.
The Cherokee Purple, on the other hand, is characterized by its deep, sweet flavor with a slightly smoky undertone. Its taste is considered rich and more pronounced compared to many other tomato varieties, making it a preferred choice in gourmet recipes.
4. Growing Conditions: How Do They Compare?
The next aspect in the Paul Robeson tomato vs Cherokee Purple debate revolves around their growing conditions. Both varieties thrive in full sun and well-drained, fertile soils, and both have indeterminate growth habits.
Paul Robeson tomatoes tend to thrive in cooler climates. However, they can adapt to various climates and soil types. As mentioned before, they have a relatively short maturity time, which makes them a suitable choice for regions with shorter growing seasons.
On the contrary, Cherokee Purple tomatoes can handle warmer climates better, but they can also adapt to different weather conditions. They have a slightly longer maturation period, but they also provide a steady supply of fruits throughout the season.
5. Disease Resistance: Which is More Robust?
When comparing disease resistance, the Cherokee Purple tomatoes have a slight edge over Paul Robeson. While both varieties are heirlooms and potentially more susceptible to diseases compared to hybrid varieties, Cherokee Purples seem to have a higher tolerance.
Paul Robeson tomatoes may need extra care and regular monitoring to prevent disease infestations. It’s recommended to practice crop rotation and regular spraying for the prevention of common tomato diseases.
On the other hand, Cherokee Purples exhibit a greater resilience against diseases. However, proper plant care, including regular watering, timely pruning, and protection from pests, is crucial to maintaining their health.
6. Which is Better for Cooking?
The answer to this question depends on personal preferences and the specific dish you plan to prepare. In general, both the Paul Robeson and the Cherokee Purple tomatoes are versatile and work well in a range of dishes.
Paul Robeson tomatoes, with their balanced sweetness and acidity, are excellent for salads, sandwiches, or just eating fresh off the vine. Their unique flavor also shines through in sauces and stews.
Cherokee Purple tomatoes are meaty and less watery, making them a great choice for slicing and using in sandwiches or salads. Their rich flavor also makes them a preferred choice for sauces and salsas.
7. The Verdict: Paul Robeson vs Cherokee Purple
The face-off between Paul Robeson tomato vs Cherokee Purple ultimately boils down to individual preferences and specific gardening or culinary requirements. Both these heirloom varieties are prized for their flavors, growing habits, and unique characteristics.
If you’re looking for a tomato with a shorter maturity period and can offer the necessary care, Paul Robeson could be your pick. On the other hand, if you prefer a tomato variety that is a bit more robust against diseases and offers a steady supply of fruits, you might want to opt for the Cherokee Purple.
No matter which variety you choose, you’re in for a delightful gastronomic and gardening experience. With their unparalleled flavors and aesthetic appeal, both the Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes are worthy additions to your kitchen or garden.