And the Winner Is...
On Saturday, September 5th, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) held their 10th annual Tomato Tasting at Heritage Farm near Decorah, IA.
Attendees sampled 45 varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated tomatoes in order to choose a taste champion. Many of the tomatoes available for tasting were rare varieties from the SSE collection and available only through the SSE Yearbook, while others are available through seedsavers.org/tomatoes and The Lillian Goldman Visitor Center.
First place: Igleheart Yellow Cherry
The first place winner was the small but mighty “Igleheart Yellow Cherry” a tomato that earned third place in two previous Tomato Tastings. Winning by a landslide, this tasty tomato is known by growers as a prolific yielder and it is part of our preservation seed collection. The Igleheart Yellow Cherry has been offered in our members-only seed exchange (what we refer to as our Yearbook) since 1998, and will be introduced to the public in SSE’s 2016 catalog. The Igleheart Yellow Cherry came to SSE from Diane and James Igleheart of Indiana. James' parents acquired the variety from their Italian gardener, around 1960, when the family lived in Connecticut.
Second place: German Pink
Second and third place winners were separated by a single vote, with second place going to “German Pink,” one of the two original varieties of seed that were given to Diane Ott Whealy by her grandfather that started SSE. German Pink is available through seedsavers.org/tomatoes and The Lillian Goldman Visitor Center. It produces one to two pound tomatoes and is excellent for canning, freezing, and slicing.
Third place: Alice Roosevelt
Third place went to “Alice Roosevelt,” another tomato from our preservation seed collection and available to members through our seed exchange. It has a bright red, medium sized, globe shaped fruit. Alice Roosevelt was available in the U.S. in 1905, but had fallen out of the seed trade entirely by 1981. It came to SSE from listed member Craig LeHoullier, who acquired it from the USDA collection.
The salsa contest, sponsored by Oneota Community Co-op, had twelve entries and was won by Fresh Tomato Salsa, an anonymous entry contributed in honor of Alison Dwyer. Alison was the recipient of the grand prize, which included a $100 Co-op gift card, a one year membership to Seed Savers Exchange, and a $30 La Rana Bistro gift certificate. Second place went to Carole’s Salsa and third to Amy’s Salsa.
Workshops were available to attendees throughout the day, including a Driftless Folk School presentation on preserving heirloom tomatoes, instruction on tomato seed saving by SSE public programs manager Grant Olson, and a lecture on tasting tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier, tomato expert and author of Epic Tomatoes.
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.