BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It was a glorious day for tomato lovers across Massachusetts. The 37th Annual Massachusetts Tomato Contest took place on Tuesday, putting tomato farmers from across the state to the test.
Farmers gathered at Boston Public Market with tomatoes in hand, ready for the panel of judges to try. Nearly 100 tomatoes were entered in the contest across four categories: slicing ability, cherry, heirloom, and heaviest.
The tomatoes were judged by the panel of experts based on flavor, firmness/slicing quality, exterior color, and shape. Commissioner John Lebeaux from The Department of Agricultural Resources was among the judges.
"Flavor is the one that we give the most points to, also the shape, the color, the denseness of the tomato itself," Commissioner Lebeaux told WBZ's Matt Sherear.
The judges gave each tomato a score for each category based on the following contest criteria:
Flavor: 10 points is the maximum score possible. Tomatoes should have a strong tomato taste and be slightly acidic, juicy, and taste fresh with a tender skin.
Firmness/Slicing Quality: Five points is the maximum score possible. Tomatoes should have a dense uniform thick wall with many seed cavities, and filled with a jelly-like mass. The firmness should be satisfying to cut though without being too mushy or hard. The tomato should be not be over-ripe, but would bruise if dropped.
Exterior Color: Five points is the maximum score possible. Tomatoes should have a consistent color, with no green coloring, and have no evidence of blotchy ripening or other defects.
Shape: Five points is the maximum score possible. Tomatoes shape should be symmetrical, and tomatoes in each entry should be uniform in size.
For the slicing category, Verrill Farm came in first place, with Langwater Farm in second. In the cherry category, Red Fire Farm came in first with Siena Farms just behind in second. Falls Farm won first place in the Heirloom category, with Russell Orchards in second.
"It feels amazing, it's probably the best feeling in the world," said one Siena Farms employee about their ranking.
The heaviest tomato award went to Ward's Berry Farm, with a 3.8 pound tomato.
The contest was designed to increase the public's awareness of local agriculture.