Ark of Taste
Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato
a.k.a. Mortgage Lifter, Halladay Mortgage Lifter
This tomato was developed by M.C. Byles (went by Charlie) of Logan, West Virgina in the 1930s. Charlie owned a radiator repair shop and had no plant breeding experience - this tomato was the only breeding work he ever did. Charlie took 10 tomatoes and put them in a circle with a German Johnson tomato in the center. He collected pollen from the 10 outer tomatoes in a baby’s ear syringe and then squirted it on the flowers of the German Johnson. After seven years he had a stable tomato with the qualities he wanted. He was a good marketer and sold his seedlings for $1 each. After 6 years he was able to pay off the $6,000 mortgage on his house. This tomato’s story has helped keep the strain alive.
This large beefsteak fruit is very meaty with few seeds. It has a spicy flavor and low acidity. The taste starts off mild and then builds, with a long finish on the palate. It has a roasted, fruity and slightly salty flavor.
The tomato is available through a number of seed companies but it is not regularly grown. Its lack of popularity may be due to the cracking on the shoulders. According to Kent Whealy at Seed Savers Exchange it is a very productive tomato.
Photo courtesy of Gina Fiorillo
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