is it wrong to love a fruit?

I don't think it's wrong. Not if it weighs nearly two pounds, tastes like paradise with a sprinkle of sugar, and took ten years to grow.

Let me explain. The tomato you see here is an heirloom variety called the "Mortgage Lifter." I purchased the seeds in 1999 on a visit to Monticello Gardens—yes, the modern reconstruction of Thomas Jefferson's amazing gardens, which he lovingly and scientifically maintained at his Virginia mountaintop residence during his retirement from 1809-1826. 

The packet of seeds describes this variety as follows:

"Mortgage Lifter" was developed in the early 1930s by a radiator repairman, M.C. "Radiator Charlie" Byles. Without any experience in plant breeding, he successfully crossed four of the largest tomatoes he could find, including German Johnson and Beefsteak. Radiator Charlie sold the first seedlings of his new, 2 1/2 lb. tomato for $1 each to customers who drove over 200 miles. With these sales, Charlie managed to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in only six years, and so the tomato was named Mortgage Lifter.

As you can see, it's too large to fit in my palm. This lunker weighs in at 1 lb. 14 oz. It's pinkish in color, meaty, not seedy, with a mild but exquisitely tangy flavor ideal for tomato sandwiches. In fact, you could feed a family on this one alone.

I first noticed this lunker on the stem in late March. It got big early; then it got bigger, and bigger. I checked in on it every couple of days, patiently waiting while several other varieties around it pinked up and ripened. I worried, a little, that it might not. But about ten days ago I saw the first blush on its crown and though when I dance, small children cry, I did a little jig right there in the garden.

Finally, this morning, the giant was fully ripened and heavy with sweet juice. It took no small amount of twisting to break the stem free. I put it in the basket with about 15 lbs. of other heirlooms (see below), Black Krim and Purple Calabash, and some standard and reliable hybrid varieties like Celebrity.

This has simply been a fantastic year for tomatoes on the Front Range of Colorado. I've kept and grown Mortgage Lifters faithfully for the last decade, always with disappointing results. This year, I went back to the seed packet I'd originally bought and shook out the last few seeds. Would they be viable? They were, and from one of the plants came this fruit. The early rains and cool start to summer helped the plant put on prodigious growth, and the hot days of July/August sweetened up the fruits until they bulged on the vines.

Tonight, I'll slice into this tomato. I'm not sure what I'll make out of it. Maybe I'll just cut big, meaty slices, arrange them on a bed of lettuce, chop some fresh basil and sprinkle it over the top, and finish with some feta cheese and a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

It's not wrong to love a fruit. No sir.