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Tomato Tasting: ‘Dr. Wyche’s Yellow’

Tomato 'Dr. Wyche's Yellow'
Tomato ‘Dr. Wyche’s Yellow’

Earlier in the year, when I was first doing my grand list of tomatoes to grow (which eventually grew to some 33 different varieties with varying success over the course of the summer), this one popped out at me. Generally, I stay away from the yellow/orange tomatoes. Let’s face it, sometimes they can be really hit or miss. More often they’re miss. I have had one yellow that’s been a mainstay in my garden over the past few years, and that would be ‘Yellow Pear’ (which is the only cherry as well by the way). But the flavour and the story of ‘Dr. Wyche’s Yellow’ really suckered me in. It varies a bit depending on where you’re reading the information from, but here’s what it said on my seed packet, and seems to be the most common story told (bought from the wonderful Cottage Gardener website):

There was an actual Dr. Wyche, who owned Cole Brothers’ Circus and fertilized his gardens with elephant manure. He apparently had the most luscious gardens anyone had ever seen. He developed this particular cultivar & donated the seeds to the Seed Saver’s Exchange.

Dr. Wyche was apparently one of the earliest members of the SSE, and when is carnival overwintered that’s when he gardened. How could I say no to a tomato that sprang out of the carnival?

Growth Notes

Aug 2 - Tomato 'Dr. Wyche's Yellow' This is one of the tomatoes that got burnt back a moderate amount, took a few weeks to recover, but near the end of the season it was really going strong. Unfortunately with the burning back and the weeks added onto its growth, there were a LOT of green tomatoes that didn’t get harvested. This summer it took about 90 days to mature, rather then the 80 it’s supposed to take. But even with all that, I got a great harvest. The plant produced about 3.5-4lbs for me. And that’s not including all the green ones that ended up in the compost.

The plant topped out at about 4.5-5ft, although I’ve heard they can get much taller (in the 6ft range) so I know the burning did stunt this ones growth a bit. It’s a sprawler, branches were everywhere, this one likes a lot of room to grow.

The Look

The fruit ranged in size from about 225 gr (8oz) to 450 gr (1lb). They’re flattish and extremely non uniform in shape, which always endears a tomato to me. With a few exceptions, what’s the point of growing something that looks like you can pick it up at a grocery store?

Although it’s called a “yellow” tomato it’s really much more of an orange in colour. The inside is beautiful, much different then the standard cavities you see in tomatoes. This one looks almost more like a pomegranate inside, with random holes scattered all about the place.

The Taste

Now, I’m an acidic tomato person. I love the way an acidic tomato bites into your tongue. This, is not one of those. They have very little acidity, and usually that would turn me off a tomato, but I absolutely adored this tomato. When I took my first bite, my eyes lit up in shock. This is a sweet tomato, but it is not mild by any sense of the word. This tomato has a really complex, fruity like flavour, but still with a good amount of that tomatoeyness that we all love. All the hype about the taste of this tomato totally lived up to its flavour in reality. Sweet, tomatoey, rich, and complex. Absolutely delicious.

I can’t think of a better use for this tomato then eating it fresh. One slice and you can cover a whole piece of bread. We just chopped them up as they were ripening and ate them just like that. No salt, no nothing. When you taste a tomato like this, all you can do is think back on George Costanza’s pontificating as to why the tomato never made it as a hand fruit.

The Verdict

This is one of the surprises of the season for me. I would have liked a little better growth – a taller plant, fruit ripening a little earlier in the season. However, I know this season was hard and I’m willing to bet the shortness of this plant, coupled with the need for a long(er) growing season was due to the initially burning. The taste is what really floored me, and it was good enough to me to keep me coming back. Just writing about it now, after all of my Dr. Wyche’s have gone, my mouth is starting to water thinking of that flavour. Only about 10 more months to go until I can eat them again…

Originally posted @ Populuxe.ca, October, 2009

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