This is the extremely rare pre-1820 yellow variant of the more common Red
Riesentraube. Both tomatoes evolved in Central Europe, hence the German name. All the
same, both varieties were well-known to the Pennsylvania Dutch and it was the yellow
form that was most commonly used to make tomato wine, which resembles sherry.
The wine connection is not far-fetched since the German name Riesentraube is the
traditional term used for the Old Testament grapes from the Valley of Eshkol in the Land
of Canaan carried off by Jewish spies. Those grapes were so large that the men had to
transport the bunch on a pole, one of the classic images of biblical iconography.
That analogy is what earned this tomato its unusual name since one cluster may
bear as many as 40 to 60 berries. Each tomato is about 1 inch long, tapering to a tiny
point. Excellent as a salad tomato, the plants are indeterminate and will produce heavily
right up to frost. The Pennsylvania Dutch used to plant them along picket fences so that
the vines were both ornamental and a source of food.