According to the legend, the seeds of this tomato reached Bulgaria’s Tracia plain directly from Tzarigrad (Istanbul) at the end of the 19th century, hidden in a walking stick by Alexander Dimitrov, a local celebrity who introduced various New World crops to the region, contributing to local horticultural development.
Kurtovo Konare pink tomatoes are large, with each fruit reaching up to 300 to 1000 grams. The skin is thin and smooth and the fruits are meaty, with a delicious flavor. The plants grow up to two meters tall and develop two to three fruits per inflorescence.
This is a semi-early ripening variety, suited to production in the field or in greenhouses. The seeds are passed on from generation to generation. Collected from the best fruits, they are sown at the end of January and early February in Kurtovo Konare and the nearby villages of Novo Selo, Joakim Gruevo and Trivodici.
The fruit is locally distinguished for its sweetness, and there is even a common saying, “as sweet as a pink tomato.” Kurtovo Konare pink tomatoes are eaten raw but are also well suited for processing into preserves, like lyutenitsa, made from tomatoes and peppers and famous all over Bulgaria.
Initially grown in kitchen gardens in the village of Kurtovo Konare, at the beginning of the 20th century the tomato spread to a larger area and became one of the best-known cultivars on the market.
Due to its characteristics and the artisanal production systems, this variety can cost up to three times as much as ordinary tomatoes. That’s why some retailers began buying pink tomatoes from other places and selling them fraudulently as Kurtovo Konare pink tomatoes. The local cultivar is also being threatened by the cultivation of foreign varieties that have higher yields and are better suited to transport.
The Slow Food Foundation is working with producers to help them select seeds and maintain the purity of the variety, to improve cultivation and processing techniques and to draft a production protocol.
The Presidium was also started in recognition of the tenacity of the community’s women, who in 2009 started a festival to celebrate the authentic local variety and the many local agricultural traditions.
The Presidium is one of the activities of the ESSEDRA project, co-funded by the European Union through DG NEAR and promoted by Slow Food with the aim of facilitating the integration process of the Balkan countries and Turkey into Europe through a strengthen- ing of civil society and its capacity to influence policies and promote sustainable rural development models.
Kurtovo Konare, Novo Selo, Joakim Gruevo and Trivodici villages, Plovdiv province
Kurtovo Konare food community is part of the network of Slow Food in Bulgaria that is being created with the financial support of the project “Eco-society through food: personal choices against climate change” funded by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway within the EEA financial mechanism. The major goal of the project is to create a wide network for eco-sustainable food choices for climate change. www.activecitizensfund.bg