G. and I are already starting to plan next year’s garden. I kind of kickstarted it when I found out about Landreth Seed‘s impending bankruptcy and bought one of their heritage seed collections before it was too late.
Now, we’re starting to think about what kind of tomatoes, beets and onions to buy. I think a non-gardener would think it wouldn’t matter. And someone who doesn’t cook also might not realize how much difference the variety makes.
I didn’t fully grasp it until last summer when my mom was visiting and we made two batches of tomato sauce. One was with a red Roma-style tomato, the other with a yellow one. The sauces tasted completely different.
“You’d never know this was the same recipe,” my mom remarked.
The yellow tomatoes contained significantly less acid, and the sauce made from them had a more mellow, creamy taste.
I made pumpkin custard for Thanksgiving, which is essentially pie filling baked in ramekins placed in a water bath. Once again, I was struck by the dramatic difference that results from using one variety than another.
Usually, I use Rouge vif d’Temps pumpkins to make pie and other baked goods. But I read that the woman who created my pumpkin pie recipe prefers Hubbard pumpkins, so this year, G. and I grew some Baby Blue Hubbards. (Rest easy: The pumpkin rind is blue, the inside is still orange.)
The Hubbard was much denser, so the batter was thicker, and the custard came out of the oven looking more like a cheesecake in consistency than a pudding. The Hubbard also had more of a vegetable taste than the Rouge vif d’Temps, which is so light, the taste can often be overpowered by spices.
After dinner, G. said, “So, what did you think of the custard with the Hubbard?”
“I like the red French pumpkins better,” I said.
“Me too!” he said with what sounded like relief.
So, the Hubbard is out for next year, and Rouge vif d’Temps is in. Now we just need to wade through the flood of seed catalogs that are starting to arrive and figure out what else we want to plant — and eat!