Santorini Cherry Tomatoes: Santorini is not only known for its scenic beauty but also for its one-of-a-kind tomatoes. The trademark Santorini tomato is tiny as it is appetizing. The Santorini tomatoes are so small that most visitors to the island find it hard to believe that are indeed tomatoes and not cherry fruits. The quintessential Santorini tomatoes are unique and they grow exclusively in this part of the world.
It is unlikely that you would find similar tomatoes anywhere else on planet earth. What makes the Santorini tomatoes to thrive here is the rather meager rainfall, blustery weather, and soaring day time temperature, all of which assists the growth of these tomatoes.
Agricultural scientists are still not certain whether the tomato got accustomed to Santorini's weather and soil conditions or if it belongs to an altogether unique species. The seed was first sown by a Christian monk named Fragkiskos in the year 1818 at the Capuchins Monastery. From then onwards, the tomato grew in abundance in Santorini. Organized cultivation of tomatoes in Santorini began in from the year 1875. The best part about the Santorini tomato is that it has remained original to this day and never ever has it been implanted with another variety.
A popular Santorini legend has it that the first tomato seeds were brought from the Suez. In the days of yore, Santorini used to be a flourishing maritime kingdom and its seafarers used to frequent the Suez for trading. It was during one such trip to the Suez that the Santorini seamen brought the seed to the island and began cultivating the tomato.
The Santorini tomato reached its zenith during the 20th century and if agricultural statistics are anything to go by, nearly 20,000 acres of land was cultivated with the tomatoes and at one point of time, there were as many as 14 processing factories in business.
The cultivation of tomatoes in Santorini got a shot in the arm by none other than Lenin. During the infamous Bolshevic Revolution, most of the churches of Russia were closed down. In those days the Russian priests were very fond of Visanto wine, which incidentally was also produced in Santorini. Since the demand for Vinsanto wine declined, it was the turn of Santorini tomatoes to draw the attention of the Russians.
Tomato cultivation flourished in Santorini till the decade of the 1950s. But it received a rude jolt during the massive earthquake of 1956. Then came another blow with the introduction of mass tourism to Santorini. Tourism as an industry was more lucrative than farming and many farmers left their farming behind and plunged headlong in the business of tourism. As a result, there were very few people who were engaged in tomato cultivation. What used to be a routine everyday food item has today become a truly lavish food.
In the local parlance, Santorini tomatoes are popularly referred to as tomataki. In the 19th century, Santorini used to be a flourishing tomato paste production centre. In the present era, the best time to savor the Santorini tomatoes is during the months of June, July, and August when the tomatoes are fully matured.
The tomatokaftedes (tomato balls) dish is worth trying which uses tomatoes soaked in oil with a blend of native Santorini herbs. There are two distinct types of Santorini tomatoes. One is the authentic type and the other is the Kotiko variety. The Santorini Cherry Tomato grows in abundance in the favourable Santorini environment and has a characteristic flavor that derives from the volcanic soil.
Cultivators and consumers alike benefit immensely from the Santorini tomato. The luxuriant plants in terms of quantity bear more fruit than the usual tomato plants. They are also known to mature in a quick time in comparison to the normal variety. They are infinitely tastier than the hybrid varieties found in the neighborhood vegetable market.