The jury of this year's edition of Santa Cruz de Bezana's National Antique Tomato Fair (in Cantabria) awarded the tomato of Aretxabaleta, a variety that was very close to extinction, with the distinction of being the best tomato in Spain.
David Aguirre, who owns an orchard with 250 plants of this pink variety, convinced the jury with one of his tomatoes. Aguirre said Koldo Zubizarreta, a farmer from Aretxabaleta, Gipuzkoa, was responsible for rescuing the local tomato variety by replanting its seeds and making it known to other producers in the area. "He started it all, he disseminated it, and we started cultivating it later."
"It's very sweet. It doesn't have much water, so it is very tasty. The water diminishes the tomato's flavor," Agirre stated. He also said that this tomato's skin and meat are perfectly united. "They don't separate when you chew them." To enjoy its flavor to the fullest, you should let the tomato ripen completely. "Some people like it a little green, but I don't recommend it. It's better to eat it when it's completely ripe, without adding any salt or oil to it, as that can alter its flavor", Aguirre stressed. He also stated that he currently doesn't plan to market his tomatoes.
"Who knows if we'll market them in the future. At present, we are still studying this tomato's possibilities. We are not going to spoil everything we have achieved, losing quality or leaving biodiversity aside to earn a few euros," he concluded.
Bezana's National Antique Tomato Fair, which this year celebrated its fourth edition, also awarded a Barcenilla tomato variety as the best tomato in Cantabria. At the international level, it awarded the Pantano Romanesco tomato variety from Italy. A jury of experts composed of Aitor Buendía, gastronomic journalist and Basque Gastronomy Prize winner; Juan Redondo, farmer, and director of Huerto esVida and Pablo Gómez, president of the Municipal Seed Bank of Bezana, among others, was in charge of choosing the winners.