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  • Cornell AgriTech
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Horticulture Section
  • Agriculture
  • Crops
  • Horticulture
  • Food
  • Vegetables
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Fresh from Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, the newest grape tomato – Moonbeam – has joined a constellation of tasty, small, heirloom-style tomatoes in the 2020 High Mowing Organic Seeds catalog, released Nov. 1 to home gardeners and commercial growers.

“Moonbeam is a very good eating experience from start to finish … from first bite to aftertaste,” said Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture at Cornell AgriTech, who started developing Moonbeam in 2006 and made it a selection in 2011.

Moonbeam is considered a white grape tomato, with a citrus flavor. In the High Mowing catalog, it joins five other small tomatoes in the catalog’s Cornell-developed Galaxy Suite collection: Supernova, a marbled mini-Roma; Midnight Pear, a small, dark pigmented, pear-shape fruit; Comet, a plump, red grape tomato; Sungrazer, an orange colored grape tomato; and Starlight, a slender, finger-shaped, yellow grape tomato.

The High Mowing catalog called Moonbeam a “glowing white, translucent grape tomato with oblong frame and delicious, fruity bite. This remarkable tomato has dramatic visual appeal, especially when added to a small tomato mix. Not only are these white grape tomatoes stunningly unique, they are packed with a tasty punch of unbeatable flavor.”

Beyond taste, Moonbeam is a highly productive grape tomato – with outstanding texture and exceptional looks – that is suited for home gardens, commercial fields and high tunnels, said Griffiths. It has a good shelf life and it is less likely to split.

Tomato medleys – or variety packs – are becoming popular. A decade ago, attractive small tomato medleys were only found in farmers markets. Today major supermarkets use medleys to engage consumers who want different shapes and colors, and smaller, bite-size fruit, said Griffiths.

“If you look at a lot of medley packaging, they tend to be focused on yellow, orange or red. The color groups are lacking in the white and the black types, such as the Midnight Pear tomato,” he said. “Tomatoes like Moonbeam and Midnight Pear help to contrast the medley groups and make them more aesthetically pleasing.”

Griffiths first developed the Moonbeam tomato 13 years ago, but shelved it to pursue other varieties. In 2015, he reached back to his original research and replanted them. “It was then I realized how good a product it actually was,” he said.

In 2017, consumer taste tests of the Moonbeam with the home gardener seed association groups were positive, and it was integrated quickly into High Mowing’s Galaxy Suite pipeline.

Consumers can cook or roast the Moonbeams, add them to pasta or toss them fresh into salads.

“Integrating tomatoes of different colors, different flavors and different textures is something that makes food more fun and entertaining. It adds to whole eating experience,” said Griffiths. “Moonbeam is a really nice addition to the Galaxy Suite. They’re out of this world.”

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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