Photos & text by Albert Brian Vick, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator
Catfacing and other deformities in tomatoes are a visual turnoff for most people. The reality is that while the catfacing will render part of the tomato unpalatable for most culinary uses, a substantial part of the tomato will be usable – and may be very tasty. What is “catfacing”? It’s the result of any one of several potential factors that affect the blossom end of the tomato. The most common cause is when temperatures fall during blossom set – but that’s not the cause here, because these Brandywine heirloom tomatoes were planted well after cool weather ended. Other causes include the effects of herbecides (not relevant in this example) or excess nitrogen (most likely relevant). The prevailing fact is the Brandywine heirloom variety is very susceptible to catfacing. It has not been hybridized to achieve perfection. Whatever the reason, we’ll use every part we can, even the “tail” (shown below).