All Posts   Posted:   September 25, 2019 by Nicole Forbes - Dennis' 7 Dees Education Director

Now that it is officially fall, another year of tomato growing (and eating) is mostly behind us. At the end of each season, gardeners look back on their successes and failures with the goal of improving future crops and increasing harvest yields next season. We recently celebrated and enjoyed the harvest from another tomato growing season with our annual Tomato Tasting Festival where we sampled 34 different varieties of tomatoes.

Although each year differs, procuring several pounds of many different varieties of tomatoes on the second weekend of September can often pose a challenge. This September began with late summer rainstorms and cool weather that caused ripe fruit to crack or split and also slowed the ripening process.

In spite of the cool, damp conditions, we were able to offer a wide range of tomatoes for tasting, from beloved heirlooms like Brandywine and Amana Orange to popular hybrids such as Early Girl and Big Beef. We were even able to get some ripe New Girl tomatoes to taste for the first time this year and directly compare them to Early Girl!

A big part of the tasting event is having the tasters vote for their favorites so we can attempt to carry the most popular varieties the following spring; our buyers and growers all anxiously await the voting results to plan their next season. Before I share the exciting results of your favorite tomatoes of 2019, I want to thank everyone for coming and voting; this democratic process only succeeds with your participation!

Tomato Voting Results

I am constantly amazed by how different we all are… even just our taste buds! Out of 34 varieties, 23 different varieties received at least one vote as the Best All-Around Tomato. I am often more interested in which varieties receive zero votes and potentially consider them as ones to cut from our future inventory. This year’s favorite was a bit of a shock to me⁠—as many of you know, I am not a huge fan of Early Girl… yes, Early Girl won the Best All-Around Tomato category, followed by Green Tiger in 2nd place, and Sunsugar and Hawaiian Pineapple both in 3rd place.

Best Cherry Tomato went to the tried-and-true Sweet 100, followed by Sunsugar in 2nd place, and Sungold in 3rd place. Big Beef was voted Favorite Large Tomato, with Mortgage Lifter and Hawaiian Pineapple both in 2nd place, and Amana Orange, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, and Pineapple tying for 3rd place.

Considering that the winners of the first three categories were all hybrids, I am glad we also asked for the Best-Tasting Heirloom—this year’s winner was Hawaiian Pineapple, with Brandywine in 2nd place, and Black Krim and Green Zebra both in 3rd. Your Favorite Non-Red Cherry Tomato was Snow White, and Best Non-Red Large Variety went to Amana Orange, followed by Hawaiian Pineapple in 2nd, and Green Zebra in 3rd place.

Employee Salsa Contest Results & Recipes

In addition to tasting tomatoes, we also held an Employee Salsa Competition! There were 6 different recipes for tasting, and we asked you to select the best on⁠e—they were all fantastic! The winner was Salsa #4, made by yours truly, Nicole Forbes! See below for most of the recipes.

Salsa #1

Combine all ingredients together.

  • 1 large Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato, diced
  • 1 large Goliath tomato, diced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small pluot, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, fire roasted and minced
  • 2 large ancho peppers, fire roasted and diced
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, fire roasted and pureed
  • 8 tomatillos, fire roasted and pureed
  • 6 cloves garlic, fire roasted and ground to a paste
  • ½ fresh serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 tsp salt

Salsa #2

(recipe not available)

Salsa #3

Place diced tomatoes in colander and let drain for 30 minutes; as they drain, layer onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic on top. Shake colander to drain excess juice; transfer tomato mixture to bowl, add lime juice, salt, and pepper, and toss to combine. Add sugar or additional lime juice to taste.

  • 1½ lbs tomato (Striped German, San Marzano), cored and diced
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 8 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper

Salsa #4 (WINNER)

Roughly chop all ingredients and add to food processor with lime juice and spices; gently process to desired consistency. Best flavor if made a day in advance.

  • 6 medium-sized tomatoes (Abe Lincoln, New Girl, Bloody Butcher)
  • 2 jalapenos (seeds removed) 
  • ½ red onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • handful of cilantro 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 

Salsa #5

Combine all ingredients together.

  • 2 lbs tomatoes (San Marzano, Juane Flame, Red Cherry)
  • 1 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 fresh poblano pepper, roasted, peeled/seeded, and diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt to taste

Salsa #6

(recipe not available)

Now that it is officially fall, another year of tomato growing (and eating) is mostly behind us. At the end of each season, gardeners look back on their successes and failures with the goal of improving future crops and increasing harvest yields next season. We recently celebrated and enjoyed the harvest from another tomato growing season with our annual Tomato Tasting Festival where we sampled 34 different varieties of tomatoes.

Although each year differs, procuring several pounds of many different varieties of tomatoes on the second weekend of September can often pose a challenge. This September began with late summer rainstorms and cool weather that caused ripe fruit to crack or split and also slowed the ripening process.

In spite of the cool, damp conditions, we were able to offer a wide range of tomatoes for tasting, from beloved heirlooms like Brandywine and Amana Orange to popular hybrids such as Early Girl and Big Beef. We were even able to get some ripe New Girl tomatoes to taste for the first time this year and directly compare them to Early Girl!

A big part of the tasting event is having the tasters vote for their favorites so we can attempt to carry the most popular varieties the following spring; our buyers and growers all anxiously await the voting results to plan their next season. Before I share the exciting results of your favorite tomatoes of 2019, I want to thank everyone for coming and voting; this democratic process only succeeds with your participation!

Tomato Voting Results

I am constantly amazed by how different we all are… even just our taste buds! Out of 34 varieties, 23 different varieties received at least one vote as the Best All-Around Tomato. I am often more interested in which varieties receive zero votes and potentially consider them as ones to cut from our future inventory. This year’s favorite was a bit of a shock to me⁠—as many of you know, I am not a huge fan of Early Girl… yes, Early Girl won the Best All-Around Tomato category, followed by Green Tiger in 2nd place, and Sunsugar and Hawaiian Pineapple both in 3rd place.

Best Cherry Tomato went to the tried-and-true Sweet 100, followed by Sunsugar in 2nd place, and Sungold in 3rd place. Big Beef was voted Favorite Large Tomato, with Mortgage Lifter and Hawaiian Pineapple both in 2nd place, and Amana Orange, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, and Pineapple tying for 3rd place.

Considering that the winners of the first three categories were all hybrids, I am glad we also asked for the Best-Tasting Heirloom—this year’s winner was Hawaiian Pineapple, with Brandywine in 2nd place, and Black Krim and Green Zebra both in 3rd. Your Favorite Non-Red Cherry Tomato was Snow White, and Best Non-Red Large Variety went to Amana Orange, followed by Hawaiian Pineapple in 2nd, and Green Zebra in 3rd place.

Employee Salsa Contest Results & Recipes

In addition to tasting tomatoes, we also held an Employee Salsa Competition! There were 6 different recipes for tasting, and we asked you to select the best on⁠e—they were all fantastic! The winner was Salsa #4, made by yours truly, Nicole Forbes! See below for most of the recipes.

Salsa #1

Combine all ingredients together.

  • 1 large Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato, diced
  • 1 large Goliath tomato, diced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small pluot, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, fire roasted and minced
  • 2 large ancho peppers, fire roasted and diced
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, fire roasted and pureed
  • 8 tomatillos, fire roasted and pureed
  • 6 cloves garlic, fire roasted and ground to a paste
  • ½ fresh serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 tsp salt

Salsa #2

(recipe not available)

Salsa #3

Place diced tomatoes in colander and let drain for 30 minutes; as they drain, layer onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic on top. Shake colander to drain excess juice; transfer tomato mixture to bowl, add lime juice, salt, and pepper, and toss to combine. Add sugar or additional lime juice to taste.

  • 1½ lbs tomato (Striped German, San Marzano), cored and diced
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 8 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper

Salsa #4 (WINNER)

Roughly chop all ingredients and add to food processor with lime juice and spices; gently process to desired consistency. Best flavor if made a day in advance.

  • 6 medium-sized tomatoes (Abe Lincoln, New Girl, Bloody Butcher)
  • 2 jalapenos (seeds removed) 
  • ½ red onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • handful of cilantro 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 

Salsa #5

Combine all ingredients together.

  • 2 lbs tomatoes (San Marzano, Juane Flame, Red Cherry)
  • 1 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 fresh poblano pepper, roasted, peeled/seeded, and diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt to taste

Salsa #6

(recipe not available)