Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Tomato Girls

Who are the Tomato Girls?    They are five Bourbon County Master Gardeners who  are testing tomatoes for K State Research and Extension this summer.    In two plots in the Community Garden, they have planted 30 tomato plants, 3 of 9 varieties and 6 of one variety.       They have tended the plants and charted their growth to report to K State how well these varieties do in Kansas.   

The "Tomato Girls" in May in between the two plots of just planted tomatoes.

The plants the end of May -- they've grown some
(compare to the above picture)
But they seem really small!

The first of July, lots of foliage but not much product yet!

But here we are in August and we  are reaping the rewards of our labors.       The tomatoes are producing tomatoes!    And lots of the tomatoes.    
In fact Friday we picked over 100 pounds of tomatoes!

 The “Tomato Girls” as they call themselves, were at The Farmer’s Market this Saturday.     We had samples of the tomatoes that we've been growing.     And everyone had  a chance to taste and vote on which variety they liked best!     We had a whole tomato -- a cross section of the inside of the tomato and then samples to taste!     There was also information about the tomatoes that you could take with you.    

The test tomato varieties are:    Hy-Beef, Brickyard, Mt. Majesty, Red Mountain, Mt. Merit, Ultrasonic, and Chef’s Orange Choice.     The varieties being tested against are the well known Jet Star and Christa.  These varieties are available to purchase but the ones that do the best in the trials may receive K State’s stamp of approval.   

One of the "Tomato Girls" explaining to a customer the differences in the tomatoes.

It kept us on our toes to keep the bowls filled with samples!

And because man doesn't live by slices of tomatoes alone . . . 

We made some Tomato Bacon Jam to slather on chunks of homemade bread
And gave the recipe away!

Tomato-Bacon Jam from Slow Food Dinner at Kurlbaum Heirloom Tomato Farm in WyCo, Summer 2014.

1/2 # thick-sliced bacon, diced small
2 # Roma tomatoes, seeded & diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. packed dark brown sugar
3 Tbl. cider vinegar
2 Tbl. finely mined garlic
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
S&P to taste

Cook bacon in large sauce pan until crisp. Place on plate with paper towels and blot up extra grease. Discard drippings from pan.

To pan, add tomatoes, onion, white & brown sugars, vinegar, garlic, pepper flakes, and bacon pieces. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick with jam-like consistency, about 1h 15m to 1h 30m.

Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups jam

Serve on meatloaf in place of ketchup, on burgers, on a BLT, on pizza or flatbread, on crostini, etc. 

NOTE: The recipe does not call for canning this, so it should be kept in fridge and used up within a week or so. 

And since we were Master Gardeners, we're hoping other gardeners in our little town will join our ranks.

A reminder sign along with a sign up sheet.
We're hoping to get lots of new Master Gardeners this year!

Four of the five "Tomato Girls" (the missing girl is celebrating her anniversary -- no shirking her Tomato Girl duty!)
Jan Hedges, Sheryl Bloomfield, Martha Scott and Janet Irvin

The results:

K-State Tomato Trial – Taste Voting Summary
Master Gardeners of Fort Scott
August 15, 2015 at Fort Scott Farmers Market
72 people voted

Ranking by total number of votes (not value) Ranking by number of 1st
Crista         33                                                   Crista        19
Jetstar         32                                                  Chef’s Choice Orange 19
Chef’s Choice Orange 32                                  Jetstar           13
Mt. Majesty         26                                         Brickyard          10
Brickyard         25                                             Red Mountain                  8
Red Mountain                 18                              Hy-Beef                  7
Hy Beef                 16                                      Mt. Majesty          5
Mt. Merit              14                                        Mt. Merit          2
Ultra          4                                                    Ultra           2

We're turning our data into the Extension Office as well as our information on growth, durability, output (we have to weigh the tomatoes), and health.

Over coffee, after our big pick on Friday, we agreed that it has been an interesting experience.    And if we did another trial for K State -- we would prefer flowers!


Beth said...

What a fun trial you tomato girls did, Martha! I enjoyed reading about it. My favorite to grow is Jet Star however this year I am growing Big Beef and Amana Orange. A tomato tasting would be fun. I have frozen 13 containers of tomatoes that I'll use in chili over the winter months.

Pat said...

I loved seeing this project come to fruition, dear friend!!!
Oh, to have been there to taste those home grown tomatoes!!!
Thanks for sharing this "Garden" project!!!

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

That was one well done trial on the tomatoes.

Rondi said...

Great Trial Martha! And now this season I have to try this jam recipe!!!