Just Peachy Tomato Wins People’s Choice – Tomato Festival

People's choice tomato, 'Wapsipinicon Peach'.

People’s choice tomato, ‘Wapsipinicon Peach’.

The tide of opinion has swayed away from traditional red for the tastiest tomato with a winner of the Tomato Festival Sydney’s Public Taste Test at the Royal Botanic Garden announced as the Wapsipinicon Peach!

“This yellow hued tomato is called a peach because it has furry skin like a peach and its blush wipes away to reveal a beautifully golden, pop in your mouth explosion of flavour – sweet, but not clawing,” said Talei Kenyon from the Diggers Club.

“When we conducted our first public taste test in 1993, the Tommy Toe, a fine-looking red mid-sized cherry-shaped tomato was the standout winner, but now there are 10 other tomatoes that outrank the Tommy Toe and the majority of them are not red.

“It seems red may be a bit passé, because on Friday, the eve of the Tomato Festival Sydney, for the first time ever the top score of 100 was awarded to the green grape tomato by Founder and Executive Chair of the Diggers Club, Clive Blazey.  This green-coloured tomato was chosen as the best by a group of VIPs which included foodies such as chefs, writers and critiques,” she said.

There are three ways to rank a tomato; they are for its appearance, taste and texture.  The taste is out of 60 while the other two are 20 each.  You need all of these attributes in balance. The green grape was not available for the Public Taste Test due to a supply shortage.

The top three tomatoes the public chose were: (1) Wapsipinicon Peach, (2) Black Russian, (3) Jaune Flamme.

The top three tomatoes VIPs chose:  (1) Green Grape,  (2) Rose de Berne, (3) Aunt Ruby’s German Green

Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Deputy Executive Director, Dr Summerell, said it was interesting to note that the winning tomatoes chosen by both the VIPs and the public were all heirloom varieties.

“The Tomato Festival, although entertaining, had a deeper purpose and that is to raise awareness of the heirloom varieties of tomatoes, which have not been bred or hybridised with mass production in mind,” Dr Summerell said.

“Hybrids are the type of tomato seeds and plants you’d buy from commercial suppliers — they produce big yields and are easier to transport but often have less flavour.  Heirlooms develop naturally with pollination occurring naturally. Heirloom varieties tend to have superior flavour and are easy to grow — which is great for the home gardener.

“Because heirlooms are not hybridised, gardeners can collect their own seed from them each year, which allows you to control your own seed source. Once an heirloom variety is lost, it cannot be recreated and biodiversity decreases,” he said.

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust joined with the Diggers Club for this event — Diggers began rescuing heirloom tomato seeds about 25 years ago and introduced them to Australian gardeners in 1991.

3 February 2014