Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tomato Tasting Day - Wet but Successful

Compiled by Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener
No age or height requirement at Tomato Tasting Day
Over 170 people ignored drizzling rain, and the threat of thunderstorms to participate in the 13th annual Penn State Extension Tomato Tasting Day, sponsored by the Franklin County Master Gardeners on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. That total represents the 2nd highest attendance figure in the history of the event.

Rain did not deter people determined to taste tomatoes
Twenty-four different varieties of tomatoes were sampled, and the winner was Old Brooks, an heirloom variety, described in the catalog Totally Tomatoes, where the seeds were purchased, as “Smooth, blemish-free fruits known for their superior resistance to blossom end-rot as well as to early and late blights. Gourmet quality flesh, with a fine, even texture. The taste is somewhat acidic, which proves to be an asset in home canning. Good all-around variety.”

Second place honors went to Maglia Rosa, a recently introduced open pollinated variety by tomato breeder Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm in the Bay area of California, who licenses his seeds to Seeds of Change, where the Master Gardeners purchased the seed last winter. Seeds of Change describes the variety as, “This cherry tomato produces truly unique, mottled pink, long, egg-shaped fruits with bright, lightly sweet acidic flavor. Harvest just as the fruit turns light pink for optimum flavor. The small plants are perfect for growing in hanging baskets or patio containers.”

And the third place finisher was Rose, another heirloom sourced from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, whose catalog describes it as, “Deep pink and smoother than Brandywine, Rose is every bit as meaty and flavorful. Fruits weigh 10+ oz. Good yielding.” Here’s the whole list:

Angela Weathers of Blue Ridge Summit submitted an entry in the largest tomato grown with a Striped German variety weighing in at almost 2 pounds. Brenda Baumgardner of Dillsburg was also a prize winner on Wednesday. Her green salsa, dubbed Salsa Verde at the event, won the people's choice award.
Salsa Verde

Photos included are from the Public Opinion Website.
WHAG Channel 21 News (includes video interviews)
Public Opinion Story
Public Opinion Photos

Update - October 20, 2013 - The breeder of Blush and Maglia Rosa - Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm and Artisan Seeds informs us in the comments section that the seeds are freely available to all seed companies, and will be available from Johnny's and others this winter.  Check out Fred's introductions for 2014.


  1. Update on Maglia Rosa and Blush. They are not licensed to Seeds of Change. They are freely available to all seed companies, and will be available from Johnny's and others this winter.

    Fred Hempel

  2. Thanks for the update, Fred - sorry it took so long -looking forward to trying the new ones next year. I posted an update.