“Sweetness isn’t the only thing,” says Keith Mueller, breeder of the Purple Haze Tomato.
“I could have a bland tomato and put sugar on top and still have a sweet tomato. I want to change people’s perceptions about tomatoes.”
That’s what Mueller has done in breeding Purple Haze.
Mueller believes pigmentation is linked to flavor. Purple Haze is an effort to improve the taste of Black Cherry. The purple-pink cherry is a cross between Brandywine, Black Cherry, and Cherokee Purple plants.
By all accounts, Mueller has been extraordinarily successful. Brandywine and Cherokee Purple are crossed, producing a potato leaf variety, which is then bred with Black Cherry to produce Purple Haze – described as an “explosion of flavor.”
Photo: Keith Mueller
Mueller cut his teeth in agricultural breeding in degrees first from Kansas State University and later as a graduate student under adviser and renowned breeder Randy Gardner at North Carolina State University. With Gardner, he worked to develop breeding line of vine-ripened tomatoes that were not only tasty but also could resist early blight. His goal is simple: “tomatoes that taste good.”
Purple Haze is not yet commercially produced. Up till now, the variety has not stabilized. While Purple Haze is fairly consistent in producing large, golf-ball size cherry tomatoes, the cross also produces oblong cherry plum (½ - 2 ounces) and small beefsteaks (4-6 ounces). Other variations include some striping and some yellow-skinned fruits.
Purple Haze Tomato is available on a limited basis. At Mueller’s request, any profits from Purple Haze are funneled to autism research.
Buy Purple Haze plants through Selected Plants (a source of unusual plants.)
|Purple Haze Tomato|
|Origin: Keith Mueller, MO, USA|
|Days to maturity: 68 days|
|Foliage/habit: Regular leaf|
|Fruit color: purple-pink|
|Fruit shape/size: large cherry, 2-3 ounces|
|Taste: very sweet, award-winning flavor|
|Other notes: bred in a successful effort to improve the flavor of Black Cherry Tomato|
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By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning writer and owner of Tomato Dirt, a leading online source for growing tomatoes and using them.
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