I didn't tell her which varieties I used, but cut up big slabs of 11 different tomatoes, all in their prime. I arranged them around the plate and just wrote down her impressions (and my ratings) as we tasted and discussed them - just a drizzle of olive oil and a few cracks of black pepper.
Varieties used: Brandywine (16 oz, pink oblate), Cherokee Green (12 oz, oblate, amber skinned green flesh), Nelson's Golden Giant (16 oz, smooth oblate, pale orange), Nepal (8 oz, red, round), Black from Tula (9 oz, smooth oblate, purple), Amana Orange (12 oz, slightly oblate, pale orange), Summertime Gold (8 oz, light yellow, pale pink blush, oblate smooth), Polish (16 oz, pink oblate), Dester Amish (8 oz, pink, flat oblate/lobed), Fred's Tie Dye (8 oz, slightly oblate, smooth, purple with green stripes) and Caitlin's Lucky Stripe (4 oz, oval, pink with yellow shoulders).
Working backwards (least liked to best):
Nelson's Golden Giant - just a beautiful tomato - small seed locules, juicy, good texture - but very mild in flavor, tending toward sweet - we liked it, didn't love it - I would have rated it a 6 - 6.5 on a 10 point scale. An SSE member included this with seeds this spring, saying it was their favorite tomato.
Amana Orange - also beautiful, larger seed locules, juicy, good texture, also mild in flavor with just a tad more zinginess than the Nelson - after knowing about this since joining the SSE in 1986 I figured it was time to grow it....I would rate it as a 6.5+ - a good tomato - but blown away by....
Black From Tula - very nice, as always larger locules and more seeds than the similarly colored Cherokee Purple - and the flavor is balanced with a tendency toward slight tartness - a very good tomato - we both liked it, didn't absolutely love it - my rating 7.5.
Caitlin's Lucky Stripe - this is a mini project of mine (still very much a work in progress, as the selection I grew this year didn't have the stripes) - in fact, looked like a pinker version of Little Lucky, but smaller locules and firmer. Just a delicious tomato with the sweetness really poking out, nice salad tomato - 7.5+ for me. Origin - one of my Little Lucky plants a few years ago produced medium sized, oval pink tomatoes with vertical gold stripes. I saved seed - and got a repeat the following year...saved seed from that and this is the result - clearly part of continuing segregation from the BrandyTad accidental cross. I will keep trying - probably will grow a few next year to seek out the larger one with the nice stripes. That BrandyTad cross is the gift that keeps on giving (one of the best tomatoes this year is one Lee found in working with selections from that cross - he calls it Don's Double Delight - very large, oblate smooth red fruit with golden vertical stripes, a home run in flavor, at least an 8, deep red interior - superb variety, can get as large as one pound - he named it after his dad).
Fred's Tie Dye - one of the Dwarf project tomatoes, this is from seed sent to me by fullmoon (nice selection, Lyn!). Just gorgeous fruit, deep crimson interior with green around the seed gel, typical interior for black tomatoes. Very balanced, rich, full flavor - yummy - it snuck into the 8 category - this will probably be the lead selection to take forward for Fred's Tie Dye (named by Vince). I think this one will be really popular once we finish with it!
Nepal - nice to find that the tomato that got me converting from Better Boy to OPs in 1986 is still wonderful - this is from seed that I can trace all the way back to those 1986 fruit. Perfect, typical tomato interior with fairly large seed locules, plenty of seed - very full, rich, well balanced flavor - as Sue said, "it really has something extra" - it's rather ordinary appearance doesn't prepare you for the big flavor - and I have that nice 8 ounce size coming in. A clear 8 out of 10 in flavor.
Summertime Gold - this is a bingo in our reselection of this released Dwarf variety (we aren't happy with what we ended up providing the seed companies, so I grew quite a few slightly older/alternate selections so we can clean it up a bit) - this came from seed saved from a fruit Lee brought over to taste, and is F8 generation. Just gorgeous inside and out, very small seed cavities and small seed - bright, sunny, intense, sweet flavor that is a joy to eat - at least an 8.
The following were all 9+ - outstanding, nearly brought us to tears with their flavors - hard to distinguish between them flavor wise in terms of excellence, though there were subtle differences. Brandywine (this is from seed that descends from the very first time I got the real deal back in 1988, from Roger Wentling, who got it from Ben Quisenberry) - nearly a perfect flavor, perfect balance, sweetness, tartness, intensity, texture - wow. Polish - this is from Bill Ellis (which he called brick red in color) - I've had this since 1990, and as Sue said, "this and Brandywine seem pretty much identical in flavor" - shape, seed locules and productivity vary a bit - I call Polish a slightly more dependable, prolific Brandywine type. Flavor was just as superb. Cherokee Green - we just love this tomato - in a way this had the most mouth-filling flavor of all of them, but maybe by just a hair - Sue noted that all of these highest scoring ones almost tasted sauteed in butter - melt in your mouth, creamy.....and the final winner was one of the few tomatoes that I really thought tasted great at last year's SSE tomato tasting in Iowa - it won the tasting, in fact - Dester Amish. I got them to share just a few seeds with me - it is a very large, flat pink (there is an 18 ounce one waiting to be eaten tomorrow), and has the excellence, complexity, texture, balance of Brandywine or the other 8+ point tomatoes in this last group. Amazing to have a tomato that looks so much like German Johnson (regular leaf plant, pink, productive) - but where I give GJ a 5.5-6 in flavor (it has that really odd, off, musky flavor character in some large pinks), the Dester Amish is amazing - really. It was the last one we ate, and Sue just couldn't believe these tomatoes went from strength to strength.
So....what did this tasting tell us? A few things - that you can grow great - and large - tomatoes in containers. That you can get great tomatoes even in horrific weather conditions. That having to water every day in the heat doesn't dilute the flavors. and best of all - that some of the ones we've loved for years are still tomatoes we love!
Just thougth I'd share this little tasting story with you.