Tomatoes ripe for tasting event

August 25, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Annie Dingzon, 11, of Waynesboro, Pa., puts tortilla chips about her salsa entry during Wednesday's Master Gardeners of Franklin County's Tomato Tasting event in Chambersburg, Pa.
Photo by Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Judging tomatoes was a perfect way for tomato lover Catherine Burke to spend Wednesday afternoon.

Burke of Mt. Airy, Md., was one of many tomato-tasters who sampled 24 different types of tomatoes at a Tomato Tasting event at the Penn State Cooperative Extension center off Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg.

The annual event is put on by the Master Gardeners of Franklin County.

Each table was lined with tomatoes as tasters armed with clipboards rated them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on flavor and appearance.

“I came just to taste them. I eat a lot of tomatoes,” Burke said.

While some believe an apple a day keeps the doctor away, Burke seems to have applied that same philosophy to tomatoes — but only in the summer.

She doesn’t like the taste of tomatoes in the winter.
“I only get them in the summertime when they are locally grown,” she said.

Master gardener Co-ordinator Linda Secrist said the annual event is informational, not competitive.

“They rate each tomato, and we compile all the data,” Secrist said.

She said all the tomato entries were grown at Franklin County’s Penn State Cooperative Extension’s Horticulture Center.

She said the event was started by Steve Bogash, the commercial fruit and vegetable agent.

“He started this about 10 to 11 years ago to give his growers the data on what the public likes as far as a tomato because that may not be what the growers are used to growing,” Secrist said. “This way, we can give that data to the commercial growers and say, ‘This is what the public likes,’ so if you start growing these you are going to get a loyal following of the public. So, that’s the purpose of this tasting.”

Barb Peshkin, a master gardener, was a tomato judge.

“Nice sweet flavor and tasting like a tomato (makes a good tomato), and the season has a lot to do with the way the tomato tastes, too. If there is a lot of rain they don’t have a lot of flavor. Some of these are really good,” said Peshkin, who lives in Chambersburg.

In addition to the tomato tasting, four people entered a salsa contest. Entries were judged by the public as well as guest judges Franklin County Commissioner David Keller and master gardener Daryl Hospelhorn.

Annie Dingzon, 11, of Waynesboro, could barely wait for the judges to announce the winner.

“I don’t care if I win or lose. This is fun,” Annie said. “I’ve entered things in the Franklin County Fair, but this is the first time I’ve entered a salsa contest.”

People were gobbling up her salsa so fast that she had to refill the bowl twice.

“I’m glad they like it,” said Annie, who used an assortment of tomatoes (instead of 12 plum tomatoes), corn and a small amount of jalapeño pepper.

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