"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, September 11, 2009

Safeway Yellow and Red Organic #1 and #2

Late last fall while picking up a few necessities at Safeway, a local grocery store in our area, my wife happened across a bin full of overly ripe tomatoes labeled "Organic Heirlooms." One must assume the produce manager was off for the day because those tomatoes were in pretty sad shape, some with actual mold on them. Beyond edibility at this stage, and marked down to almost nothing, she picked two big red and one yellow tomato out of the bin and brought the half rotten prizes home to me. She knew I would be delighted to have those big partially decayed tomatoes, and boy was she right. No, I was not going to make some strange fermented meal out of them or even feed them to the chickens...I was after their offspring.

Seeds from a few of our tomatoes drying on a screen. These are normally allowed to safely dry on our porch away from wind and children but for the sake of a picture I nervously set them outside for a brief moment.

Last October's spoiled heirlooms legacy now lives on in the form of this year's generation of appealing fruits. Some of our best pepper and tomato plants have developed from seed saved from interesting vegetables obtained from farmers markets and the local grocery stores organic food section. One obviously runs the risk of the seeds not coming true to form especially with peppers, but that has been an extremely rare occurrence for us so far. Last year we saved seed in this manner from six different types of peppers and three tomatoes all of which performed beautifully, only one tomato did not grow true to form. That one turned out to be a most pleasant surprise nonetheless.

Our "Safeway Red Organic #1", as I labeled it last year, turned into a unique bell pepper shaped tomato with orange and red stripes embelishing it's form, not at all similar to it's large, round, all red parent. So I'm wondering if this tomato is a replica of whatever the one we purchased crossed with or something altogether new. Has anyone seen this tomato that is striped much like a "Tigerella" before? The flavor is very nice and this thick walled fruit would seem to be a great candidate for pizza toppings or a stuffed tomato dish. I've already convinced a couple people that it is really a pepper.:)

The big yellow/orange tomatoes turned out to be similar to the parent and have a surprisingly sweet-tart flavor. Some are drying in our little Nesco food dehydrator as I write this...much too tasty to be preserved as a simple sauce. Our Safeway Red #2 turned out to be a nice brandywine type tomato, but alas, I neglected to steal it's soul.

Safeway Yellow/Orange #1 - It's a bit too late in the season to dry them outside. I really do need a more cost effective electric dryer or better yet to follow through on my plans for a better solar one...someday soon.


Michelle said...

Oh that pepper look-alike tomato is so cool! It will be interesting to see what happens in the next generation, I know you're saving the seeds...

Silke Powers said...

That is such a great idea to get some of your seeds from grocery store organic veggies! That pepper-shaped tomato is very interesting - nothing like I've ever seen!

I've missed your blog while we were away on vacation! Now, I'll be back for my daily dose of gardening and food! :) Silke

Frugilegus said...

Oh my, the Safeway Red Organic #1 is wonderful. What a fabulous surprise. I'm off to find a mouldy tomato.

Mr. H. said...


I am saving the seeds and hope that it does not change too much as I really like it as is.

Mr. H. said...


Welcome back, we enjoyed all your pictures. New Mexico sounds wonderful.

Well I suppose that if no one has seen this tomato I will get to name it myself.:)

Mr. H. said...


The best part about buying rotten tomatoes is that they will usually give you a discount on them...usually.:)

Silke Powers said...

I had to laugh about you saying you used to watch Westerns set near the Rio Grande. I did the same while growing up - I watched every Western I could get my hands on (in German, though). I guess I've always loved that stark landscape! You'll need to visit there sometime - I think you and Mrs. H. would love it! :) Silke

Julie said...

Do you ever start drying tomatoes in your dryer and then take the trays outside and prop them towards the sun during the day when it warms up? I find that if they have started in the dryer they will dry successfully outside the rest of the way in less than midsummer circumstances.

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Seed Savers exchange has one that look like it could be a match.


looks like it is called a Striped Cavern or Schimmeig Stoo.

I love getting new seeds this way. All of my winter squash plants are seeds from a Kobocha squash we bought 2 years ago. One squash gives you enough seeds for a few years at least. But squash are a little too willing to cross pollinate for the seeds to be used across multiple generations I think.

Mr. H. said...


What a great idea, I may try that today with one of the trays I will be getting ready...thanks so much! I can see how that would work.


Mr. H. said...


Schimmeig Stoo (Striped Cavern) it is! Developed by Tom Wagner in the 1980's. He is/was a potato and tomato breeder in Washington state.

Thanks so much, I can now give it a proper name and look forward to misspelling Schimmeig Stoo for many years to come.

Now if you could just identify the big yellow/orange one for me.:)

Have a great weekend!

Annie*s Granny said...

The yellow/orange tomato looks like Kellogg's Breakfast, one of the best tasting I grew this year.

Mr. H. said...

Annie's Granny,

That's it! Kellogg's Breakfast Tomato.
Description from Tomatofest.com -
1 lb., pale to deep orange beefsteak tomatoes originally from West Virginia, that are thin-skinned, meaty, have few seeds and a fantastic sweet, tangy flavor. Juice and inside flesh have the same bright orange color as orange juice.

Thank you, I knew these fine plants would not remain name less. They really are a great tasting tomato.

granny said...

Hello again Mr H. I just happen to be using my dehydrator today and need to get some advice if thats ok :0)Im doing zuccs today and also have a mountain of tomatoes I could dry,my problem is which is the best way to store them.I live in the sub-tropics,and it gets very humid(we are in Spring now and headed to Summer)So moisture is a issue.My son has a vacume sealer that I could use,then do I freeze the Zuccs and Tomatoes??Also I did attempt to dehydrate tomatoes once before,just semi dried,and put them in a jar with olive oil.I havent been game to try them!!Do you dry yours to a crisp,and how do you store them.Sorry about the novel length comment.Id be very thankful for any help :0)

Mr. H. said...

Hello Granny,

You are always more than welcome to whatever advice I may have.

We like to dry our tomatoes and zuchinni until they are close to being done but not crisp, since they still contain some moisture at that point we do indeed freeze them. I have in the past dried them until they were crisp and kept them in glass (not plastic) gallon jars for over a year and they were just fine.

If I were you, and did not want crisp dried tomatoes I would freeze them with your son's vacuum sealer. We just use double zip-lock bags and remove the air with a straw. All of our tomatoes seem to do well extra dry in glass jars or semi dried in the freezer for about 8-9 months. After that period of time the quality seems to be less.

Honestly, I think you would be fine doing them either way in a warm humid environment as long as you keep the non-freezer ones in a well sealed glass container. My wife likes them better if they are not crisp, so we mostly freeze ours.

I have never stored anything in olive oil before and would be a bit leery about the ones you stored that way if they were not an acidic type of tomato.

Here is some information from the University of California -


If you would like to pack dried tomatoes in oil, follow these steps:

After the tomatoes are dried, it is recommended that you place them in a bowl and sprinkle with diluted (one part vinegar, one part water) distilled white vinegar. This acidifies the tomatoes and also adds back some moisture, for a chewy texture.Empty bowl onto paper towels and pat tomatoes dry.Pack tomatoes lightly into clean pint or half-pint jars. At this stage you may add herbs or spices, dried only. Cover with oil to ½ inch of the rim of the jar. At room temperature, oil may become rancid. This is not unsafe, but undesirable. If garlic is
desired, U.C. Davis recommends acidification of the garlic by marinating with fresh herbs and vinegar 24 hours, checking to see if vinegar has completely penetrated before putting in oil.

I hope this helps some, sorry about the novel length of a response:). Have a great day.


Chiot's Run said...

There's a lady at the farmer's market that sells those pepper like ones. She says they're great stuffed with chicken salad.

Mr. H. said...


Thanks, that sounds like a great way to try them. We may do just that the next time some wild salmon comes our way and stuff them with a salmon salad...yummy.

Stefaneener said...

Great looking pepper/mato. I hope it comes true again. . . I was just looking at muslin bags as I must stop buying lettuce seed.

LynnS said...

How great that you've identified your newest heirlooms! Finding those was very fortunate for you. The first one is definitely a stuffing-tomato and you will love that salmon stuffed tomato when you make it.

Why are you unsatisfied with your dehydrator? Too few shelves? Tomatoes take such a long time to dry, is that the problem for you or is it drying time in general (or temp range)? I've been very happy with the one I bought about 20 years ago. Still runs like a charm.

Mr. H. said...


Our biggest issue with the dehydrator is the amount of electricity it uses. We dry an awful lot of tomatoes, pears, apples, and plums every year. Unfortunately most of the fruits have to be dried in the dehydrator since the weather has become much to cool for drying outside.

I guess what it comes down to is the dehydrator is just to small to be efficient for us.

It also gets clogged up with spores from the morels we dry in the spring and I just can't seem to keep the fan clean. Our last one died from mushroom poisoning two years ago and I wish we would have purchased a larger model at that time.

Other than that It's great.:) Nesco makes a fine machine, we are just a little to abusive. I really need to turn my greenhouse into a large dryer but have not got around to that project yet.

LynnS said...

Well, you're reading my mind, Mike. In lieu of using a full greenhouse, why not construct your own with a solar panel to eliminate electric use?

I'd have to read up on the specifics but a dehydrator is removing water, and the heat is not critical. Think about a dehumidifier -- it draws extra moisture from the air and expels warmth as it removes water. So following the dehumidifier model, a large dehydrator could be fashioned in the style of a dehydrator. The food "dryer" really doesn't need a heating coil, it needs dry air circulation.

BTW, my last batch of sliced Romas were pulled out one evening prematurely because a full night would have been much too long. I pulled the shelves out, put the gooey tomatoes on the kitchen counter in a corner, and forgot them. A day later, they were dried completely -- by air. Hmmm....I will be rethinking that long drying time from now on.

Think on the dehumidifier-concept during your sleep and lemme know how your night went.....;-)

Mr. H. said...


The roof of our barn works great for fruit leather, sliced apples, peppers, and so on...not so much for tomatoes though. But, it does require 80-90°days, usually two of them in a row. So yes, I need to come up with another method of drying.

Peppers hanging in the greenhouse dry well but anything else needs more air flow. I have on occasion laid stuff out on the greenhouse shelves and simply put a fan on, that works fairly well.

My idea is to put a series of removable dark colored metal sheets below the greenhouse shelves to provide the dry airflow needed to help remove moisture from the above produce.

If that does not work my other idea was to build a few screens attached to dark corrugated metal that could be set on the greenhouse shelves at more of an angle. It would cost me nothing to test both ways out and I will probably do so next year...unfortunately I have plants growing in the greenhouse floor this year. The nice thing about using my greenhouse is that I don't have to worry about the rain or wind.

More along the lines of your idea though would be the dryer featured at -


I really like the way this one is set up. It's simply a screen on top of dark metal covered with some sort of solar panel...I am going to make my own version of this next year since I already have all the supplies minus whatever they are using for solar panels, but I do have Lot's of glass doors and windows that I have collected over the years for cold frames.

I did not lose a wink of sleep last night as I have already had my fill of solar dryer dreams.:) If you come up with or across any better ideas please let me know.

I am convinced that the solution to all of our energy needs could be accomplished by harnessing the sun's power and have little doubt that if mankind somehow manages to survive long enough solar power will be a much larger source of energy in the future. One of these days they will come up with much more efficient solar cells...or maybe not.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

It does look like a tigerella pepper bell variety. I found yellow colour tomato more toleant to heat than red ones . Can this be because tomato was actually yellow in colour.

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan girl - I think you might be right about the tomatoes as dark colors absorb and retain heat more quickly than lighter ones.

Jay said...

Did the seeds come true? I would like to get some from you if they did! That is a really neat tomato.

Mr. H. said...

Hello Jay - The seeds did come true but unfortunately I no longer have seeds for either the Schimmeig Stoo or Kellog's breakfast tomato.

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