These beautiful fruits from our garden last season are called ‘Jersey Devil’ tomatoes, and they are one of our new favorites. We got the plant from a friend who simply smirked and said, “Just wait” when we asked about them.
They were one of the last varieties to start producing; we were almost ready to give up. But they more than made up for it with an abundant supply of wonderful paste-type, meaty fruit. When they first start to grow, ‘Jersey Devil’ tomatoes look a bit like peppers; they develop into long, tapered fruit about five inches long or so.
This is an open-pollinated variety of tomato, and though they produce few seeds you can save what you get from the best of the best for the following season. (Here’s how to save tomato seeds.) If you don’t start your own seeds, look for starts of ‘Jersey Devil’ tomatoes at a nursery that puts an emphasis on organically grown heirloom plants.
After they’re transplanted outdoors, it’s about 90 days to maturity, very much worth the wait in our opinion. They are an indeterminate tomato, so they will continue to produce until frost gets the best of them. ‘Jersey Devil’ can be grown in large containers. Note that they can grow well over six feet tall. Be prepared to stake!
This variety was so popular in New Jersey, especially with commercial growers, that it led to another wonderful variety to choose called the ‘Jersey Giant’. It’s similar in every respect except that the fruits are larger. (Really—it can get better?!)
Both tomato varieties are also especially good for canning. To prep, just core, freeze and thaw them and the skins will slip right off. Any juice will pour off at the same time. The large size of Jersey tomatoes lends really well to canning them whole, and the heavy meat-to-water ratio also makes them a wonderful sauce and salsa tomato.
If they ever make it that far, that is. Every tomato we picked was quickly devoured fresh in this house.
Gardening Jones is a Pennsylvania-based master gardener. Read her other Horticulture posts here and learn more at gardeningjones.com/.
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