Friday, September 14, 2012
Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter Tomato
My friend Harry has been raving about these incredible "Mortgage Lifter" tomatoes he and his wife Shirley have been growing, so I dropped by after our weekly bike ride on Wednesday and they gave me a couple to try. And you know what? These are really great tomatoes. They're big, solid, and intensely flavorful. I had tomato sandwiches for dinner that evening, and for lunch the next day, too. I'd bought some sliced roast beef, but these tomatoes were so good it seemed a waste to put anything else in the sandwich.
About the name: The variety was developed in the early 1930's in Logan, West Virginia by a radiator repairman and amateur tomato breeder by the name of M.C. "Radiator Charlie" Byles. Byles crossed the beefsteak with two other varieties and ended up with a tomato so good that people drove hundreds of miles to pay him $1 each for plants- and a 1930 dollar is equivalent to about $13 today. That money reportedly allowed Charlie to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in only six years- hence the name.
The Mortgage lifter is said to be the ideal sandwich tomato, and I wouldn't argue the point. It's large, like a beefsteak, not too juicy, and being an indeterminate variety will produce two and a half to four pound tomatoes all summer long. I plan on getting some seeds and growing my own next year on my front lawn.