That is the date of the 2010 Great Tomato Tasting at Rutgers University’s Snyder Research and Extension Farm in Pittstown. From 3 p.m. to dusk, you can try heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, as well as sweet peppers, cucumbers, herbs, apples and peaches. And not just a few tomatoes: there are reds, yellows and greens; beefsteaks, plums and cherries. The checklist I saved from last year’s festival ran to about 3 dozen varieties.
The festival was created to help New Jersey tomato growers get a handle on what kinds of tomatoes the public likes. That’s great, except it leads to the festival’s two big disappointments: you can’t buy any of the tomatoes to take home and you can’t get a list of which growers have the tomatoes you liked best. At least you couldn’t last year; I’m hoping that Rutgers gets it right this time around.
Rutgers does, however, get one big thing right at tomato tasting: All the tomatoes it grows at the extension center are donated to food pantries around the state. With fresh produce so hard to come by in the pantries, this is a major plus.
The Great Tomato Tasting costs just $5 and kids under 10 are free. There are also wagon rides through the farm and other activities, so the kids will have plenty to do while you’re sampling. Snyder Farm is on a back road in Hunterdon County, so use the map below for directions.