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August 31, 2012

Guide to Heirloom Tomato Varieties

In the race to plant tomatoes in the Spring and actually get edible fruits that can be used in everything from sauces to salads, I have often over looked one very special category - taste! What is the point of growing beautiful abundant plants with gorgeous round perfect fruits if they taste awful or just plain taste of nothing?

How do you know which ones to plant? Well you could try looking at the labels on the seed packets - haha - yes I know - if you read these they all are wonderful! So in an attempt to be partial and fair, a group of gardeners got together on Aug 10th at the height of tomato madness and tasted lots of varieties. You may notice that there are some conflicting results in the taste category and that is because we had some conflicting ideas about taste. But mostly we were agreed.

Here are the results.

The Great Tomato Tasting Event – August 10th, 2012

STANDARD CLASS

Variety: Julia Child (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Big round light red fruits. (Not huge)
Growth Habit of Plant: Abundant fruits but as it is a determinate variety, they overwhelmingly ripen at once. Fruits came early and plant seems to be on the way out at this date (Aug 10)
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Bit mushy. Sweet. Too sweet. Skin is tangy – flesh is sweet. Stays on the tongue.
Liked overall.

Variety: Early Girl (Sudeep)
Heritage: No
Look of Fruit: Deep red fruits when ripe. Medium sized well formed fruit.
Growth Habit of Plant: Healthy, indeterminate, not abundant but full. Fruits still forming at this date.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tangy, delicious, sweet. Skins are tough. Amazing.
Liked overall.

Variety: Beef Cherokee (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Pinkish bottoms w/yellowish top halfs. Spine lines, red flesh.
Growth Habit of Plant: Scraggly plant. Determinate. Hard to tell if they are ripe because of color. Plant looks sick.
Would you grow this variety again?: No
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Mild slightly woody. Good to cook with. Fruity. Mushy. Has an aftertaste that stays. Good.

Variety: Beef Magnum (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Beautiful, round, huge fruits. Very red. Great round shape.
Growth Habit of Plant: Not robust but adequate. Not a huge amount of fruits but some continuing to set at this date. (Aug 22) Determinate.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Full taste. Too mild & wet. Very good taste. Solid, large enough to fill a bread slice or hamburger bun. Great all round. Not too acidic tasting. Mild. Some found them too mild while others really liked them.

Variety: Early Girl (grown by Ann)
Heritage: No
Look of Fruit: Dark red fruit, larger than average for this variety.
Growth Habit of Plant: Well developed branches and compact deep green leaves . 42 “ tall, 28 “ wide and contained in a square cage. Fruits stay longer on the vine than others without ruining.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Very bland & watery. Skins tough. Very mild and not too tasty. Good for soup. Mild & pleasant.

Variety: Green Zebra (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Small to medium yellow green fruit with dark green stripe. Very different to look at.
Growth Habit of Plant: Sparse and not too many fruits.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tangy with strong flavor. Unique. Sweet & tangy. Flavorful. Love it. Excellent for salads.

Variety: Cherokee Purple (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Medium sized, dark colored fruit
Growth Habit of Plant: Big fruits, lots of plant with lush habit.
Would you grow this variety again?: ?
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Watery, mushy & bland. Less ripe is better. No pizzaz. Tasty at first then flavor goes away. Others disagreed and felt the flavor stayed.

Variety: Paul Robsen (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit:
Growth Habit of Plant: Sparse plant, not too many fruits. Susceptible to blossom end rot.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tough skins. Very flavorful. Tangy. Everyone likes this one. Strong taste. Very tasty.

Variety: Krim Black (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Spines, large fruits, chocolate-burgundy color
Growth Habit of Plant: Rambling growth with heavy fruits. Determinate.
Would you grow this variety again?: No
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Mild & juicy. Good sweet – texture too soft. Slice holds together. Sweet after taste.

CHERRY CLASS

Variety: Krim Black (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Spines, large fruits, chocolate-burgundy color
Growth Habit of Plant: Rambling growth with heavy fruits. Determinate.
Would you grow this variety again?: No
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Mild & juicy. Good sweet – texture too soft. Slice holds together. Sweet after taste.

Variety: Sun Sugar (Ann)
Heritage: Plant from Costco - unsure
Look of Fruit: Cherry. gold
Growth Habit of Plant: Not bountiful but adequate for small families
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Great – some tangy, some sweet. Strong flavor

Variety: Juliet (Linda)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Oblong – large for cherry
Growth Habit of Plant: sprawling indeterminate
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Firm & sweet. Good cooked, better than raw.

Variety: Pachino (Linda)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Round, large for cherry
Growth Habit of Plant: sprawling indeterminate
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tangy not sweet. Clay taste more like Roma. Not for salad.

Variety: Sun Gold (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Small round orange
Growth Habit of Plant: Robust, tall, plenty of fruits, early & seems to be indeterminate
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
To die for. Eat for ever. Wonderful. Candy.

Variety: Blond Kopchen (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Tiny pear shaped yellow to orange fruits
Growth Habit of Plant: Masses of fruit in huge sprays. Very early to set. Still producing in early Sept
Would you grow this variety again?: NO
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Bland. Nothing. Woody. Yuk! What a shame as the plant is so productive.

Variety: Sun Gold (Carol)
Heritage: Not sure
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Bright orange
Growth Habit of Plant: Sprawling – takes over a huge space – long branches have to be staked and held so that fruit is supported
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Very sweet! Love it. Great in cold veggie salad. Also works in hot food instead of regular sized toms.

Below: The gardener tasters each lunch before tasting.

tomatotastinglunch.jpg

Below: The tasting begins.

tomatotastingbegins.jpg