As I was leaving my exercise class this morning I got a text from my sister letting me know that, in a few minutes, “Mr. Tomato” was going to be at our local nursery, Plant Depot, in San Juan Capistrano. I decided to head over to see if I could find out why my heirloom tomatoes were less prolific this year versus last. Instead, I walked into a nice surprise…a good crowd of gardeners (also tomato eaters) and an impressive set up for the class. Long tables filled with scores of plates mounded high with diced and cherry tomatoes sat waiting to be pierced with toothpicks for tasting. Over 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes were on display. (Did you know there are hundreds of heirloom tomato varieties?)
We were asked to taste and score which we preferred. This was serious business that took concentration. Whether tasting butters, wines, teas, or tomatoes – tasting against another like item is the best way I’ve found to discern flavor differences and determine preferences for use of the ingredient.
This was such a spontaneous event for me, and I was so excited about tasting, that I forgot to take any photos…so instead, you get to see how my beautiful, albeit, limited production of heirlooms came out this season from my garden. We grew 10 varieties…the good news was that some of the ones we grew, were my favorites from Mr. Tomato’s tasting. My favorites for flavor, color, and size were:
Abraham Lincoln – Green Zebra – Brandywine – Legend – Porkchop – Old German – Snow White Cherry – Andrew Rahart – Arkansas Traveler – Black Cherry – Kellogg’s Breakfast
Next year I plan to plant most of these. The mix of flavors from acidic to sweet, colors, red, brown, yellow, greens, and sizes cherry to large will deliver beautifully on a platter offering freshness, sweetness and a bit of zing.
As we come to the end of the “great” tomato season, I hope to have a few more opportunities go enjoy salads like this one. After that, I move on to other veggies in the fall and primarily only have roasted tomatoes til next season’s crop comes in.