It’s a thing. At least at our house. For two summers in a row, we’ve hosted a “tomato tasting” event, and it’s a tradition we’ll definitely continue. Below are instructions if you’d like to create your own “tomato tasting” and the tomatoes that took top honors at our fete.
How to Host a Tomato Tasting Party in Three Easy Steps
One. Determine which tomatoes you’re going to offer for tasting. We decided to have two batches: cherry and beefsteak sizes. In our line-up this year:
- Apple Yellow
- Store Bought
- Chocolate Lightning
- Lucid Gem
- Golden Gypsy
- Uluru Ochre
- Store Bought
- Blue Beech
Keep in mind that timing the party may be tricky. I invited my guests on the Tuesday before the Saturday event. You’re keeping an eye on the ripening of the tomatoes. You want to have enough ripe tomatoes to taste. Once you see that happening, pick the nearest realistic date!
Two. Prep. This part is pretty easy. You’ll need:
- A bowl or plate for each variety
- Numbers (I wrote numbers on garden markers)
- Note cards for the tasters
- A knife and cutting board to cut the tomatoes into tasting sizes (for the beefsteak tomatoes)
- Some nice decorations and snacks if you like
We made our event a potluck and also provided some of our own entrees. The most popular entrees were Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Miso-Basil Pesto and slices of tomato.
Three. Get the tasters tasting! I set up instructions asking taste testers to rate each variety by taste, texture and appearance. I weighted the taste score by giving it a range of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest). We rated texture and appearance on a scale of 1 to 3 (3 being the highest).
And that’s it! You tally up the scores et voila! You know which are the most tasty tomatoes, at least among your friends. We have about a dozen tasters weigh in at our event, and here are the results.
Cherry Tomato Ranking
- Apple Yellow (a new fave for me — more on that in another blog)
- Sungold (trailed Apple Yellow by only half a point)
- Volunteer (yes – this is a volunteer tomato that popped up in the front yard, most likely an offspring of Tidy Treats)
- Store-bought (cherry tomatoes that Stephanie picked up at the store)
The cherry tomato ranking was close–first and fifth place only differed by eight points. In sixth place, the store-bought tomatoes ranked 20 points below fifth.
Citrine and Sungold are both very sweet and somewhat addictive. Apple Yellow has an irresistible texture and sweetness. This may not sound delicious to you, but I thought of them as little yellow tomato gummy candies and I probably ate hundreds throughout the summer.
That’s right! Lucid Gem won for the second year in a row. I also had one GinFiz tomato that was ripe so I cut that up at the end and everyone said they would have voted for that one, hands down, but I didn’t have enough ripe to enter them into the tasting. By the way, the GinFiz variety comes from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and the variety costs a dollar per seed. That’s right–one dollar for one seed. So you buy a tiny mini packet for $15. But they’re good. Lucid Gem comes from San Diego Seed Company and they will be on our little farm every summer season.
I hope that inspires you to grow–and taste–lots of tomatoes next summer! Be on the lookout for new varieties in the fall catalogs. Apple Yellow tomato, which placed second in our tasting, was a new variety introduced in 2022 by Johnny’s. And let me know if you have questions. Most of all, have fun!