The August heat delivered an exceptional tomato season this year in Jefferson County, Washington, home of our research farm. Last weekend visitors at the Jefferson County Farmers Market in Port Townsend got a mouth-full of flavor participating in the third annual organic tomato taste-off.
OSA entered three of our favorite varieties from the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) trials, which include: ‘Matina’, ‘Fireworks’, and ‘Siletz’. Local farmers also submitted their favorite varieties and 132 market visitors voted with their mouths and colorful stickers to indicate their favorites by category. Varieties were ranked for sweetness, “tomatoeyness,” texture and “real looker” categories.
As for the results, ‘Matina’ took first for flavor, followed by ‘Esterina’, submitted by Finnriver Farm. ‘Matina’ and ‘Fireworks’ took first and second, respectively, for tomatoeyness, followed by ‘Blush’ from Serendipity Farm. ‘Esterina’ ranked first for texture, followed by ‘Matina’. And ‘Indigo Drop Cherry’ from Nash’s Organic Produce, and ‘Damsel’ from Midori Farm, placed first and second, respectively, for the “real looker” category.
‘Indigo Drop’ is a high anthocyanin variety bred by Dr. Jim Myers of Oregon State University, the lead researcher of NOVIC. Anthocyanins are in a class of flavonoids that provide potential antioxidant benefits. OSA’s entries are all available for purchase from Northwest organic seed companies – ‘Matina’ from Uprising Seeds and ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Siletz’ from Adaptive Seeds. ‘Matina’ is a deep red, truly flavorful saladette (paste) type. ‘Fireworks’ is a nice sized slicer with great shape and smooth shoulders. ‘Siletz’ is a classic smaller slicer also bred by Oregon State University. All three were early producers in this mild maritime climate.