Friday, August 13, 2010

First Mortgage Lifter of the Season!

I know I've been writing a lot of tomato posts recently, but I promised to post of photo of our first Mortgage Lifter of the season, and here it is!
First Mortgage Lifter of the season, harvested August 9, 2010

The Mortgage Lifter is fascinating to me on several levels.  First, and most importantly, it's a tomato I grew up eating.  My parents grow Mortgage Lifters every year and so did my Granddaddy Phillips.  When I was a kid I never paid attention to the names of the tomatoes we ate, but this tomato looks like home to me.  Mortgage Lifters are sweet and juicy and have very few seeds.  They're also big and are the perfect size to be sliced on sandwiches.  

Check out this photo my dad sent me last week.  It's blurry because my dad hasn't figured out how to focus his iphone yet, but you'll get the idea.  The photo came with a note that said "One Generation Ago".  And this is pretty much how I remember my grandparents eating.  Of course, it's also how my parents still eat because this is a photograph of what my parents ate for dinner on August 8, 2010.  It's a plate full of sliced tomatoes (Mortgage Lifters), green beans and potatoes, applesauce, sweet pickles, and sliced raw cucumber.  All home-grown and homemade.  

The Mortgage Lifter is also interesting because it's considered an heirloom tomato even though it was developed in the 1930's.  I was surprised to discover that the Mortgage Lifter isn't an especially old tomato, but it's definitely an heirloom to me.  It was developed by a radiator repairman from West Virginia named M. C. Byles.  Byles, known as  "Radiator Charlie", crossed four different plants-- an Italian variety, an English variety, a Beefsteak, and a German Johnson to come up with the Mortgage Lifter. He sold his plants for a dollar apiece and named it the Mortgage Lifter because he was able to use the proceeds from his tomato sales to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in only six years.

We decided to turn our Mortgage Lifter into a couple of BLTs to keep up my friend Daniel's tradition of eating his first tomato of the season in a PLT (pancetta, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich.  No pancetta at our house, but we did have bacon, which was a bit of a miracle in itself.  (I'm sad to report that the days of eating bacon every weekend are long gone.)  Beautiful as this tomato was, we had no regrets about slicing it up and eating it for dinner.  This little dearie was just enough for two big BLTs and unfortunately, I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take a photo of them.  You'll just have to trust me on this.