2020 Tomato Tasting and Rankings!
This was so fun to do! It is the end of my tomato season (with the exception of my Sweet Million which I planted later in the summer to prolong my tomato crop) and I have enjoyed my tomatoes all summer during quarantine. But I really hadn’t tasted them, if you know what I mean. I had used them in salads indiscriminately, not really choosing any particular one – just picking those that were ripe, or those that were closest to where I was standing in the garden!
So I thought that before the last tomatoes leave the vine, I would do a taste test and really savor each specific type of tomato that I planted, and see which ones really stood out, and which I might choose to plant again next year.
The thing is, that I have a relatively tiny garden. I have a total of 5 plants, only one tomato plant of each kind, which is different from some other gardeners that I see on the internet that have loads of land and dozens and dozens of tomato plants. Mine is a different kind of gardening, maybe more like micro-gardening!
All my plants were purchased at my local farmer’s market at a TomatoMania! event. Tomatomania! is a traveling festival of tomato plants where they sell loads of different varieties of tomatoes. They must have over 200 varieties to choose from. It’s overwhelming but a complete blast!
There’s heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, brand new species of tomatoes—everything you can imagine including the old standbys like Early Girl, and Better Boy. (Hmmm… did that sound sexist?) I never buy common tomato types at Tomatomania! because you can get those at your local nursery. I go to Tomatomania! to educate my self about tomatoes, and to try some unusual varieties. Tomatomania! takes place at local farmers markets around the Los Angeles area for just one weekend at a time. Here’s an article about Tomatomania! from the LA Times this year.
In my area, they arrived on April 15. I remember this because I had tickets to see Angels Baseball at Spring Training in Arizona. So, because I knew I was going to miss Tomatomania, I had asked one of our good friends to purchase a few plants for me in my absence. Well, you know what happened. Everything shut down EXCEPT Tomatomania! – so we cancelled our trip to Arizona, and instead, drove around the block to purchase our spring crop of tomatoes! Not such a bad trade off – but I did miss my Albert (Pujols.)
I set up my tomato tasting in the kitchen and I took it very seriously. I savored each tomato and then tried to report the distinctive characteristics of each. I’m not a tomato expert, so I didn’t really have the proper vocabulary to describe each tomato as precisely as I would have liked – but I think you will get the general drift.
It was a kind of calming experience, really. I just sat down, without rushing, and tasted each tomato in turn. It was nice to focus in and to think while I was tasting exactly what it was that I was experiencing. I hope that you notice I used my vintage butter pats (I LOVE butter pats) to cradle the tomatoes as they awaited their turn for tasting. The dark blue butter pats are a flow blue vintage pattern, the light blue china with silver lining is my Aunt Anna’s wedding china, Johann Haviland “Blue Garland” Bavarian China. (I just included that because I always want the fine china to be identified! Last night I was watching a TV show about Russia with the most exquisite cut glass flutes! I wanted to look them up on the internet!)
So, I hope that you find my taste testing helpful for your tomato purchase next year. I won’t spoil the results – you have to watch the video to find out the rankings!