Welcome to the first annual Tomato Taste Test. We’re growing enough tomato varieties now that a taste test has become quite necessary. Especially when I’m already eyeing up more new varieties for next season… We’re growing nine tomato varieties at the moment. Five of them are new to us. I was very curious to see which varieties we all liked the best. Would any of the newcomers trump our stalwarts that we’ve been growing for years? Here’s our variety list and a bit about each one. They are all heirloom varieties.
New to us. Red. Ribbed, mostly pear-shaped. Meaty flesh.
Grown by us for 9 years. Red. Large, elongated to oxheart shape. Meaty flesh.
Grown by us for 2 years. Pink with green shoulders. Large, slightly flattened round shape. Meaty but juicy flesh.
Broad Ripple Yellow Currant
Grown by us for 3 years. Yellow. Grape-sized cherry. A vigorous rambler.
Grown by us for 6 years. Red. Large cherry. Good producer going well into autumn.
New to us. Rich gold. Medium, rounded shape. Juicy, yet meaty flesh.
New to us. Dark blackish red with green shoulders. Large, rounded shape. Juicy flesh. (For colour when ripe see photo below.)
New to us. Pink with green shoulders. Flattened round shape, similar to Brandywine Pink but less ribbing on top. Juicy flesh.
New to us. Red. Ribbed, blocky shape, similar to Albenga Oxheart but no so pear-shaped. Meaty flesh.
I set up the taste test by saving one or two tomatoes from each variety, trying to get them at an even amount of ripeness. Then we sliced them into smallish pieces to try and hide any size difference. Each variety had its own plate that was labelled. The Husband and The Little Fulla got blindfolded first while I dished out pieces of tomato to them, two varieties at a time. They chose the favourite out of each pair. Then those favourites went against the other favourites. Well, at least for The Husband. It was a little hard to narrow down what The Little Fulla’s favourite was beyond the first round of pairings. He was just enjoying scoffing pieces of tomato. However, owing to the fact that he scoffed all the Broad Ripple Yellow Currants before they could be administered to anyone else and that they keep mysteriously disappearing from the tomato collection plates despite the fact that he’s harvesting off his own plant in his own garden… I think we can say that they are his favourite.
We all had some different results for which tomatoes we liked. The Husband’s overall favourite came out as Amish Paste. I think Amish Paste will forever be in our garden. It is a great meaty tomato for our staple mass of tomato soup, but it also tastes great for fresh eating. We’ve had a few tomatoes weighing over 350g this year, and the biggest so far has been an Amish Paste that was 403g.
The same thing about fresh eating cannot be said for all meaty, paste-type tomatoes. Interestingly, the one tomato that all of us liked the least was Albenga Oxheart, which is meaty but also supposed to be great for slicing with a great flavour. It does not have a great flavour. We do not have a reason to grow it again. The fruit look quite similar to Oxheart Dalmation, but Oxheart Dalmation tastes noticeably better to all three of us.
When you have so many varieties of tasty homegrown tomatoes it’s hard to decide which one’s are the best. Before doing the tomato taste test I had pegged my favourite as King’s Gold. It surprised me. I didn’t know a yellow tomato could trump the others for my tastebuds. Sure enough, in my blind taste test King’s Gold came out on top. I haven’t liked a tomato as much as it since we grew Black Krim.
King’s Gold is a rare New Zealand heritage variety but I will be surprised if it doesn’t become popular in due time. The plants are good growers that have shown disease resistance in our humid climate and the fruit develop well. They look good. Obviously, they taste excellent but what’s even better, which I discovered after acquiring the seeds, is that they are one of the few orange or gold tomato varieties readily available in our country that contain the superior form of lycopene, tetra-sis-lycopene, which is far more easily absorbed by the body, providing antioxidants that can even help in cancer prevention and treatment. You can read more about that here, on the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust website. It seems I stumbled upon something spectacular with this tomato. Now I am keen to acquire and try out more of these special orange or gold varieties, so I have sent away to try and get some seeds.
Let’s talk about Black Krim for a minute, a dark blackish-greenish-red tomato that we used to grow. We started growing it at least eight years ago, in Christchurch, but haven’t grown it for the last two years because it was doing poorly in our garden here thanks to the humidity and its substandard disease-resistance. It has given us our biggest tomatoes to date though. I think the biggest one I’ve grown was a 525g one that I posted about here. Below is another big one.
Last season, at The Husband’s request, I tried out a potential replacement dark tomato, Black From Tula. It tasted good, but not as good as Black Krim. Also, it did very poorly, showing a lack of disease resistance that was just as bad, actually worse, than Black Krim. I decided not to bother with it again. This season was the second attempt to grow a better dark tomato than Black Krim, with Margaret Curtain. Being a NZ heritage variety, the plants have performed better than either of the predecessors. They also have a lot of large fruit growing on them. I had high hopes for Margaret Curtain. Unfortunately, it’s taste doesn’t come close to Black Krim. It isn’t as meaty as Black Krim and is more of a slicing tomato. In terms of slicing, fresh eating tomatoes, I’m now headed the route of the ‘real’ golden/orange varieties with tetra-sis-lycopene for better nutrition. But Black Krim was great for cooking into soup as well as eating, so I am considering bringing it back and attempting to slowly improve its disease-resistance by selective seed-saving. I am also curious to see what would win my taste test between King’s Gold and Black Krim. Hmmm.
Here are some other things of note from the taste test. Brandywine Pink and Gardener’s Delight were also up high in the taste rankings. Mortgage Lifter, although looking similar to Brandywine Pink, does not taste as good as it. It was our second-least favourite tomato. It won’t be lifting our mortgage then. I don’t plan to grow it next season. The Brandywine Pink plants did better in terms of disease- and pest-resistance than they did last year, so I think it will be sticking around. Oxheart Dalmation was middle of the road and I will probably grow it again since it contributes some good meaty tomatoes for soup purposes.
Well, we’ve managed to knock several tomato varieties off the grow-list for next year, which is helpful. But somehow I don’t think we’ll be growing any less varieties…