A Tomato by Any Other Name Tastes as Sweet

Fourth Annual Taste of Tomato held at Gateway Fun Park was put on by Harlequin’s Gardens and Master Gardeners of Boulder County volunteering through the CSU Cooperative Extension Service.

That is, unless you attended Boulder’s fourth annual Taste of Tomato, where over 60 varieties of cherry, beefsteak, salad and paste tomatoes were judged by the crowd to each be unique in flavor.

Tomato tastes ranged from the perfect balance of acid and sweetness, to light and somewhat fruity. You might even have found a variety or two you don’t prefer.

Local growers heirloom varieties ready to compete for best tasting tomato.

Local growers’ heirloom varieties ready to compete for favorite tomato taste.

Eve and Mikl Brawner, co-owners of Harlequin’s Gardens Sustainable Nursery, are the sponsors and masters of ceremony for the annual event, where hundreds of new and experienced urban and county gardeners come out to share their prized fruit and taste what others have grown this season.

Harlequin’s advice: Save seeds from your favorite plants

“You should grow plants that give you good results in your garden and soil. Those are the best seeds to save and grow again the next year,” said Eve Reshetnik Brawner as she demonstrated seed-saving.

Eve showed attendees how to remove the green gel from around the tomato seed through the process of fermentation. Once the gel is gone and seeds are dry, you can tuck your favorites away until next year.

Harlequin's Gardens Co-Owner Eve Reshetnik Brawner demonstrates seed saving.

Harlequin’s Gardens Co-Owner Eve Reshetnik Brawner demonstrates seed saving.

“This seed is the only tomato plant that survived that late frost we had. It’s a Glacier variety, and surviving a late Colorado frost is a trait I like in my tomato plants,” said Eve.

She noted that seed saving helps ensure you can grow your favorite plants from year to year.

“A tremendous portion of the world’s seed supply has been bought up by large companies. They may buy a smaller seed company that produces 200 varieties, but only distribute a few. Instead, they develop and promote their own hybrids. So you may really like a particular variety, but can’t get the seed anymore. You never know when that’s going to happen,” said Eve.

Crowd favorites

Attendees sampled tomatoes cut by Colorado State University Extension Service Master Gardeners, then voted on their favorite varieties.

Popular flavors included:

  • Sungold and Sweet Million cherry tomatoes
  • Paul Robeson, Glacier, and Anasazi salad tomatoes
  • Chocolate Stripes and Black Sea Man beefsteak tomatoes, and
  • San Marzano paste tomatoes.
Locals sample over 60 varieties of tomatoes.

Visitors sample over 60 varieties of tomatoes.

Many heirloom varieties got high marks. An heirloom tomato has been in existence at least 50 years, according to Lori Thomas, master gardener and volunteer at the event. “Most grocery stores and big box stores grow hybrids because they are easier to grow and more disease resistant,” Thomas said.

For maximum taste, grow your own

How many times have you noticed that tomatoes from the grocery store can’t hold a candle to the taste of garden grown tomatoes?

That’s perhaps the best reason to save seeds, get outside, and grow your own. Or, early next spring, head out to Harlequin’s Garden and see which starter plants Eve and Mikl have on hand. With their focus on cultivating varieties that produce well in the Boulder area, they are sure to have a variety that will thrive in your garden.

Come next August, you’ll be eating juicy garden-fresh fruit with the rest of us urban gardeners.

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