Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Tomato taste test - which ones do you like?

I am a member of the Diggers Club. Now I know that some BLF members have said that this is a very expensive organisation, and I agree with that sentiment. I belong for a couple of reasons. The first being that I really believe that what they stand for is spot on. Even if they seem to think that everyone of their membership is really well off and can afford around $100 to listen to speakers, who while they are no doubt  very good at what they do, are certainly no more knowledgeable than, for example,our own Annette McFarlane who gives free talks at libraries, who no doubt pay her a fee, but we get it for free.

The other reason is that they have a very large range of heirloom seeds. Some of which you can't get elsewhere and I am particularly keen to read of their experiments with Tomato Taste testing. Each year they do blind testing with a number of guest tasters, comparing most of their range with some bought at supermarkets. They stress that modern supermarket tomatoes are bred for withstanding long distance travel and storage, are ripening artificially, and must have thicker skins to resist deterioration. Taste is not as important as these other criteria. This is added to the fact that growers push a lot of water into their crop to boost the weight and size. This is in addition to the problem of spraying of the fruit for all the diseases and pests that they are renowned for.  Organic growers tend to have much healthier considerations.

My criteria for growing a good tomato are: are they easy to grow? Do they give a good amount of tomatoes per plant? DO THEY TASTE GOOD? Even if a tomato satisfies the 1st two criteria, who wants to grow them if they don't taste very good? Now I have had varied success with them over the years, as I'm sure we all have. I tend not to grow them in summer and rely on the cherry types that self seed and which satisfy all the above criteria. 

Diggers top taster one year was the black cherry tomato and I tried these but they took for ever to produce a quite small crop. They did taste good, but I've not grown them since. Maybe they are more suited to a colder climate, Maybe I didn't grow them very well. Others may have tried these, I would like feedback.

The ones I tried this year, were Amish Paste, a long Roma style tomato, and Green Zebra, a rounded type. Both did very well in the Diggers taste tests, and both satisfied the 3 criteria. I got very good crops from the Amish Paste, and I thought that they were very tasty. The Green Zebra were not quite as prolific, but a winner in the taste category too. Have any of you tried these? What are your favourite types and why?

The Amish Paste were prone to splitting, but as these were grown in old feed bags and polystyrene boxes they may not do this in a rich garden environment. I just cut off the split part and have had a bumper crop. I will definitely be growing more of both these types next year. Maybe we could get together and do a blind tasting with our best types next year.   

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Comment by Lissa on December 1, 2015 at 5:48

Hope all is as well as it can be Phil.

Keep this in mind for a future project, perhaps one winter when the toms like to grow best for us.

Comment by Phil on November 30, 2015 at 20:18
No time at the moment Lissa as you know hence my recent absence from BLF. Hopefully this will change in the new year when I may follow It up or at least post some more blogs.
Comment by Lissa on November 30, 2015 at 18:00

It's a project you could follow up Phil :)

Timing it so that different people have different toms growing would be a problem unless you get a group primed to each grow something different for the end comparison.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on November 30, 2015 at 7:58

As with wines, same grape-different area-different taste. Confusing! Should be fun to try though :-)

Comment by Phil on November 30, 2015 at 7:42
I think a tomato (or potato, etc) tasting event would be a great idea for a garden visit. Gives everybody the chance to compare and try before you grow! I guess the main problem is to bring enough produce of each variety for everybody to have a taste. It would also be interesting to see how the same varieties taste from different gardens.
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on November 28, 2015 at 11:11

Nor does yellowish-green Green Tomato Sauce! Cooked with ah, the seeds you use for 'seed cake'? Good flavour, odd to look at, when you're expecting Tomato Sauce you're expecting something different though.

Comment by Barbara Tealby on November 28, 2015 at 9:07

Good idea to have a taste-testing, Roger. Like Rob, though, I prefer the redder tomatoes, having seen the colour of the tomato sauce made from my recent volunteer tomato that was so prolific. Mustard-coloured tomato sauce just doesn't look right to me.

Comment by Dave Riley on November 28, 2015 at 7:48

My parents used to live on the same mountainside -- Arthur's Seat -- as Diggers when the business was startling up at Heronswood  in the eighties.They made an important contribution to gardening esp re heirlooms. ..but now it's a franchise thing almost.

They , nonetheless, established the online seed ordering thing for the industry.Great catalogue for drooling.

Just got some toms(from GH) to try: Thai Pink Egg,Tropic, & Cherry Red Pear. I mainly cook with tomatoes so ensuring a regular supply is the main game.

Comment by Lissa on November 28, 2015 at 7:07

Oh and I used to belong to Diggers too Roger. For quite some years actually. Gave up due to the cost and finding I could buy the same things elsewhere without the yearly fee. The seed they sold was best suited to the climate down there also.

Comment by Lissa on November 28, 2015 at 7:05

Sad face :(

I just don't have much luck growing toms. I've tried many different types from seed and seedling. The romas grew well for me over the cool months but they proved to be a bit dry and solid. Good for cooking but not for a sandwich.

My best toms have always been the volunteers which I expect have grown from thrown out bits of commercial toms I've bought.

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