Biggest tomato contest will highlight 6th annual tomato tasting day

Biggest tomato contest will highlight 6th annual tomato tasting day

On Wednesday, August 23 from 11am-2pm and 3-6pm, the Master Gardeners of Franklin County's Penn State Cooperative Extension will hold their 6th Annual Tomato Tasting Day at the Horticulture Center on Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg. Always a popular event, Tomato Tasting Day includes not only a tomato "taste-test", but also a contest to find the largest tomato grown--by weight--from participants, who are invited to bring their largest tomatoes to be "weighed in" for the contest between 2 and 3pm.
The public is also invited to enjoy tours of the demonstration and community service gardens, a plant clinic and handouts that include tomato recipes and instructions for canning, seed starting and vegetable gardening.
The highlight of Tomato Tasting Day is the blind taste test, where the public tastes between 20 and 25 different types of tomatoes, and rates them on a scale of 1-5 for flavor and aesthetics. After turning in their "report card" rating the varieties, participants are given a key describing each variety, and the source of the seed, so they can look for and plant their favorites next year. The top two varieties in each category are guaranteed a spot in next year's trial, to ensure continuity and create a base for records that are kept from year to year.
Master Gardeners begin preparing for Tomato Day in January, poring over catalogues and selecting new varieties, or personal favorites that have yet to be tested. Seeds are started under growing lamps in mid-March, transplanted to 4-inch containers 2-3 weeks later, and moved to a greenhouse where they are pampered until hardening off and planting in mid- to late-May. Varieties are chosen in 5 categories: Cherry, Yellow, Slicing, Plum/Paste and Unusual/Novel.
Tomato Tasting Day is free and open to the public. For more information, call 717-263-9226.