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Ground cherries gain ground at annual Tomato Festival

Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 9:39 p.m. CDT; updated 8:42 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 27, 2013

COLUMBIA — Results are in from the ninth annual Tomato Festival, and this year, they include the ground cherry.

Aunt Molly's ground cherry ranked third behind Sungold tomato, which received second place, and Brandysweet plum, which took first place.

For members

The ninth annual Tomato Festival offered something sweet and something spicy, with more than 150 varieties of peppers, tomatoes and the like. (This story and photos are available to readers with a Missourian digital membership.)



Brandysweet plum is a small hybrid tomato produced by crossing Brandywines with cherry tomatoes. Ground cherries are closely related to tomatillos. 

The Bradford Research and Extension Center hosted the Tomato Festival on Sept. 5. Almost 700 people attended the event, which featured more than 150 varieties of peppers, tomatillos, ground cherries and tomatoes for participants to taste and rate on a scale of 1-5.

The center obtained Brandysweet plum seeds from Tomato Growers Supply Co. and both Sungold and Aunt Molly's ground cherry seeds from Totally Tomatoes.

The five lowest-ranked tomatoes were cream sausage, pink stuffer, mountain delight, Quimbaya and Ananas noire.

Competition was also stiff in the festival's first chef cook-off. Trey Quinlan of Trey Bistro won by a single vote, said Tim Reinbott, superintendent of the Bradford Research and Extension Center.

Produce groupies can look forward to the possibility of a new festival in years to come. Reinbott said the center is considering adding a sweet-corn festival, to be held at either the Columbia Farmers Market or the South Farm Showcase.

"We have 28 varieties of sweet corn," Reinbott said. 

It may not be much in comparison to the bounty on display at the Tomato Festival, but is still plenty to sink your teeth into.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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