Monday, 25 August 2014

Tomatoes on Trial

The tomato harvest is in full swing here. All those months of anticipation have rewarded us with colanders heavy with ripe tomatoes. They will be eaten in salads, added to sauces and soups and be turned into chutney to be enjoyed later in the year.

As we have now had the opportunity to taste and compare all the varieties we grew this year we decided we would share our tomato trial which takes into account, looks, flavour and culinary uses. All scores are out of 10.

Stand up straight! - A motley line up of the fruity Orbs on trial

Smallest first...

The smallest tomato we grew was 'Sweet Aperitif'. A cherry type tomato which was one of the free plants we received from Gardeners' World magazine back in April. The single plant produced a good number of trusses of miniature toms which were the first to ripen. They were sweet, but not as flavoursome as expected. As they are so small they were perfect for picking straight from the vine, a quick rub on the sleeve and popped into the mouth while working in the garden.

Looks - Tiny, a handful sprinkled in a salad look cute.
Flavour - 6
Culinary use - salads
Will we be growing them again - no, there are better flavoured cherry tomatoes

Another cherry tomato and another magazine freebie. We've tried this variety before as our friends grow it and swear it's the sweetest tomato they've ever grown. We agree. The single plant gave lots of trusses, reached the roof of the greenhouse first and is still putting out trusses of fruit.

Looks - They are a golden yellow when ripe, (this photo doesn't capture it's sunny yellow colouring too well).
Flavour - 9
Culinary use - salads, they also look great in a mixed tomato salad.
Will we be growing them again - definitely!

This is meant to be a cherry style of tomato but ours did grow larger than the other cherry tomatoes. These were grown from seed and although there are 4 plants in the greenhouse their yield isn't much, all plants only putting out 4 trusses each.

Looks - It's shape and colour epitomises what a tomato is meant to look like.
Flavour - 7
Culinary use - salads, sliced in sandwiches, pizza topping.
Will we be growing them again - No, still looking for the best salad tomato.

Yet another freebie, (the magazine offer was for three tomato varieties). A mini plum which ripens to the oddest shade of pink, reminiscent of the deep pink shade of a wine gum. The single plant gave lots of fruit, with each truss heavy with tomatoes.

Looks - The colour isn't what you would expect in a tomato, it ripens to a deep pink, (again a difficult shade for the camera to capture).
Flavour - 6
Culinary use - salads
Will we be growing them again - No, found the colour really unappealing.

A plum style tomato. We have always grown plum tomatoes as we find them the most adaptable. They can be sliced and eaten in salads but are by far the best for cooking with. The usual variety of choice is San Marzano but this spring we just couldn't get our hands on a packet of these seeds. Instead the shops seemed to be pushing this Roma variety so we thought we'd give it a try. The plants have done really well, with lots of full trusses on every plant. The ripe fruits are large, firm tomatoes.

Looks - Large, deep red plum shaped tomatoes. Very dry when cut but the core is a little hard.
Flavour - 7
Culinary use - an all rounder, can be used in salads and cooking, the flesh breaks down into a tasty pulp when cooked.
Will we be growing them again - No, will stick with San Marzano, it's flavour and texture is wonderful.

A beefsteak style of tomato which can grow to mammoth proportions! We have grown this variety for a number of years and find them very adaptable. Grown from seed the greenhouse was planted with more of this variety than any other. The plants are still weighted down with full trusses, each truss averages around 5 fruits, giving a very good yield per plant. 
Now, not sure what went wrong with these. When we sited our secondhand greenhouse in early spring we took into account it's location and the amount of sun and shade it would receive. It has had lots of sun but the trellising meant to offer it some help with afternoon shade hasn't yet filled out with climbers and this might be where the problem lies. These fruits are large, tasty and ripen so they can be gently twisted off the truss but their cores are still very hard which is a shame as they need to be removed and we hate waste of any sort. Think it might have been they got too hot.

Looks - Large, fleshy tomato, one fruit can easily take the place of three normal salad tomatoes.
Flavour - 8
Culinary use - great for eveything.
Will we be growing them again - Yes

So that's our tomato thoughts, some favourites which will be grown again and an opportunity to flick through the seed catalogues searching for the elusive perfect 10 tomato...

Now must get back to some work in the Studio, I'm presently lino cutting snow drifts while Gary has another wading bird in his sights...

Enjoy your week.

'Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes!'

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather, I'm catching up after being gone. Just want to first thank you for your comments! And your tomatoes look much better than mine. I grew three plants this year -- they delivered fairly well but one can always use more tomatoes!