A couple of years ago, at California Spring Trials, a new variety of tomato was unveiled. The newly developed ‘Tomaccio’ tomato plant is cultivated just like any other tomato and can be grown in the garden outdoors or in large pots. It is a handsome plant that grows small tomatoes that can be eaten like any other fresh tomato. But what makes the ‘Tomaccio’ plant unique is that you can allow those tomatoes to dry right on the vine. These plants grow easy home dried tomatoes without any special efforts. Wait until the sun dries them right on the vine. I tried a bite of these tomatoes — also called “sweet raisin tomatos” — while at the Spring Trials and was impressed. You can also eat the fruit fresh. I liked the flavor of the dried tomatoes best, though.

Although this variety debuted a few years ago, I still haven’t seen it for sale at most garden centers, although I do know of some gardeners who have found it locally. It seems like a good idea, and for gardens where multiple tomato plants are grown, it adds another dimension for kitchen use. If you have difficulty locating the plants, check the Tomaccio site online at http://www.tomaccio.com/index.html. Not only do they offer recipes and cultivation information, but you can enter your zip code and they will tell you the nearest retail store to buy them.

Since the plants look and grow like most other tomatoes, this might be an interesting addition to any collection in the vegetable garden. It certainly makes for a good conversation piece.

The dried tomatoes on the ‘Tomaccio’ plant can be cropped and used in cooking, salads, or nibbled on as a snack. These home dried tomatoes are both easy to grow, dry and use. They have a very sweet flavor and make an excellent sauce or dip for an appetizer. Try growing this new variety of tomato for something new and different in your vegetable garden.