28th Annual Tomato Contest in Massachusetts
Farmers from all over Massachusetts dropped off their best tomatoes for the 28th annual tomato contest. It was held today outside of Boston’s City Hall. Organizers say about 500 farmers in the state grow tomatoes generating about 5.4 million dollars in revenue.
Some people take their tomatoes very seriously. Mary Kassler and Bob Heiss have been judging the tomato contest for 15 years.
"Every one loves tomatoes! Isn’t it called the love fruit or something?"
"The love apple maybe?"
"I think tomatoes are the love apple!"
The tomatoes are judged in 4 categories – taste, firmness, color, and shape.
"We’re all noticing that this year, there are no mushy ones because it’s been a nice dry summer. So the texture is really good and the color is really good, but the flavor is not really there. "
Mary and Bob sample a tomato, jot down a score on their clipboards, cleanse their palates with crackers, then move on to the next one. They think it’s too early in the year to get that perfect tasting tomato. Peak tomato season in Massachusetts is late August early September. But then voila! They find it:
"Mary and I have decided this is the flavor of a tomato that you need to know."
Bob produces a purplish cherry tomato the size of a golf ball and pops it in my mouth:
"It’s dense. There’s pungency. A little bit of sweetness. A little bit of lingering flavor. We call it returning flavor. It’s a flavor that hangs on the palate."
"I got it!"
"There you go…"
The first place trophy in Best Cherry Tomato went to E Cecchi Farms in Feeding Hills. Red Fire Farm in Granby took home the prize for best Heirloom tomato. And Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell swept the trophies for best field tomato and largest tomato. It was an Aussie Heirloom weighing in at 2.8 pounds.