The Great Tomato Taste Off at Quail Hill Farm


On hold since 2010 due to the actuality or threat of Late Blight arriving early and devastating the crop, the Quail Hill Farm Great Tomato Taste Off drew a crowd to the Amagansett farm earlier this month. Below we’ve got a write up from farm member and event coordinator Jane Weissman.
A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins. — Laurie Colwin

For all the challenges Quail Hill farmers faced this season, the tomato crop not only was bountiful and delicious, but it warranted the return of the Great Tomato Taste Off. Saturday, September 5 dawned cool and clear, an auspicious start for the event, this year held on Birch Hill, adjacent to Bill King’s 1972 sculpture West Side/East Side.

As harvesters entered the fields, their eyes were immediately drawn to the 60 or so overflowing trays of tomatoes of all sizes and colors and the tables where their contents were cut into bite-sized pieces for the tasting and rating of 35 varieties.

Basing their judgments on taste and texture on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being terrible and 5 terrific, 137 people completed rating sheets. Here are the 2015 rankings. (Asterisks denote varieties grown for the first time at Quail Hill.)

The top five tomatoes are: Sungold (by a large margin), Black Cherry, Green Zebra, Yellow Brandywine and the pink Wiesnicht’s Ukrainian*.

Close behind, without much disparity in ranking are: the pinks Rebekah Allen* and Rose de Berne, Amish Paste (as sauce), the cherries Mexico Midget* and Super Sweet 100*, the orange Jaune Flammée, the paste Speckled Roman, Orange Strawberry*, the red Juliet, the purple Paul Robeson, and the red Legend.

While they are not the highest rated, tomatoes that ranked fairly well both overall and within their categories are: the paste Red Pear and the reds Legend, Red Zebra*, Carmelo* and Mountain Magic.