i love fresh tomatoes. i don't mean the pink/orange flavorless and pasty ones you find at the local grocery store. i mean organic, homegrown, ripe on the vine, still warm from the sun, tomatoes.
These tomatoes probably don't look like the perfect round orange/pink tomatoes you find at the store. They are all heirloom varieties. i like to grow a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. i like the full rainbow.
So you can only imagine the devastation i'm feel having been hit with late blight. Not only does late blight attack the plant killing it rapidly, but it also affects the fruits. As the disease progresses, brown lesion will appear on the fruit. These lesion spread incredible fast, and make the fruit inedible.
i was really expecting to lose all of my tomatoes to the blight. Once i realized i had it, i began spraying my plants with Bonide Copper fungicide. i picked and ate as many green tomatoes as i could, and then started harvesting a few as they were beginning to ripen. i suddenly found myself with a lot of ripe tomatoes.
As beautiful as these tomatoes are... everything i have read online says you shouldn’t can or freeze tomatoes from blighted plants. The fruits have a lower pH and increases the risk of botulism developing after processing. So although i totally understand not water bath canning them, i would think that pressure canning them would kill any possible botulism spores. i also can't imagine that they could develop botulism in a freezer. ???
Anyhow, because i have an abnormal fear of botulism i contacted our local extension office, hoping that they could reassure me that the tomatoes were safe to freeze/pressure can. Instead they told me they had to contact the state specialist before they could confirm their answer. :(
It's hard to imagine this beautiful pink Brandywine tomato may not be safe to preserve. i've been eating them fresh, and although late blight tomatoes turn red, they never sweeten. The flavor isn't bad, it's just not what it should be. It almost taste like those tasteless tomatoes they sell at the store. :(
i am still picking lots of green and 'just starting to ripen' tomatoes. If allowed to ripen on the vine, they will develop brown lesions on the fruit. i'm still waiting to hear back from the extension agent, but plan to freeze them anyway. i would hate for them to just rot and then find out too late that i actually could have preserved them.
i am incredibly grateful for all the tomatoes i've been able to harvest, because sadly, this is what most of my tomatoes look like this year. i have had to pull most of my plants, and i've thrown out way more tomatoes than i've harvested. :(
As devastating as it all is, i am still obsessed with heirloom tomatoes. i'm already seed shopping and planning my tomatoes for next year. However, i think next years garden will include a variety of blight resist heirlooms, just to be safe. :)