We have a tradition with a longtime friend in which we gather together, bringing our best tomatoes each season, to share in the bounty of the summer harvest. We slice them with care and taste each variety to determine our favorites. There is olive oil and salt, a little basil, and very good bread on hand. Each time we’ve done a tasting we have come away with a new favorite. This year was no exception.
We gathered in the garden with our contributions and began with show and tell. My husband and I brought Azoychka, Gold Dust, a mystery volunteer, Yellow Pear, Stupice, Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa, and Green Zebra.
Clockwise from the left front: Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa, mystery volunteer tomato, Green Zebra, Azoychka, and Gold Dust (center as well).
Our friend Orna and her husband Matthew brought Old German, Kellogg’s
Breakfast, Sun Gold, Black Prince, Jaune Flamme, Missouri Pink, and
Attempting to identify clockwise from the left: Old German, Black Prince, Lemon Boy, Missouri Pink (slightly dented), skip a few repeats to the orange ones on the bottom – Jaune Flamme, and Lemon Boy again in front.
First up, Old German. It’s really hard to beat this tomato – so colorful, not to mention huge! Perfect on sandwiches, or in our case, with salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
We used bread as a palette cleanser between tomatoes, but really… this was lunch.
Bread: The stuff of life.
My husband ranked the tomatoes as we tasted each one. We were not all in agreement about which tomato was the best, but there was a resounding “mmmm” when we all bit into the Kellogg’s Breakfast. This giant orange/yellow tomato was so sweet, we ate it all before a photo could be taken. Here is what it looks like:
Old German came in close behind, as did Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa, but there are a few surprises: Missouri Pink received top marks, and our mystery tomato kicked some tomato @$$.
Let’s talk about this mystery tomato for a minute. It volunteered (meaning I did not plant it) in the shade behind a giant Cecil Brunner Rose, presumably were the critters must have carried one off to devour last year. I have not watered this tomato even once and it is more vibrant and productive than any of the tomatoes I have cultivated on purpose.
Taken 4 months ago before flowering or fruiting.
In reviewing where it could have come from, I have analyzed my planting charts from last year and have since determined that our mystery tomato must be a Dona. See what it looks like here:
In our tasting, Dona was full of umami, that fifth taste of the palette that is often so illusive. Rich in flavor, almost creamy, and so… well, tomato-y! I don’t know if the original tasted as good (Dona is listed as a hybrid on some sites), but this volunteer is a true winner. We’ll be saving seeds from it to try again next year.
Pictured here: Yours truly, Matthew and Orna Walters. Photos by Andrew Cheeseman
Folks, you’ve got to try this tomato tasting party thing. It took a couple of text messages to arrange the rest took care of itself. All you need is a cutting board, a serrated knife, a few fixins (mozzarella would be a good addition) and you’re on your way. We had a great time and we can’t wait for next year.
So in summary, our favorites were: Kellogg’s Breakfast, Old German, Missouri Pink and Dona (?). Stay tuned for tomato growing 2012.