Dona: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2007

Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2007

Dona TomatoI bought the Dona tomato plant because I had heard so much about it in the tomato underground.  Supposedly, seeds for this plant are a bit hard to get a hold of.  Not so much because they are not sold anywhere, but it is because the places that sell them tend to sell out quickly.  And they sell out quickly, not because this is an overly popular tomato, but because seed dealers tend to keep only little on hand.  This probably means this is a hit or miss tomato in that some years, everybody wnats it and other years, nobody wants it.  Hmmm…  I don’t know if that bodes well or not.

The description from the company I bought it from reads:

Open pollinated version of the wonderful French gourmet hybrid tomato “Dona”. Heavy crop of beautiful, smooth 4-6 oz. globes. Perfectly balanced flavor. Good disease resistance. Indeterminate, 70 days.

Dona Tomato Sliced

The Beauty Pageant:

Size: Cute.  Nice medium small tomato. 

Shape: Almost baseball round.  Looks alot like the average tomato in a grocery store (let’s hope it doesn’t taste like it).

The inside: Red, but not brilliant red. Good, thick walls and the gelatin is pretty stiff but wet. 

Texture: Somewhat mealy.  The gel feels odd since it is stiff but wet.  Kind of feels like frog eggs in your mouth.  Not that I have ever had frog eggs in my mouth, but.. oh nevermind…

Tasting:

Off the Vine Tasting: Not something I am going to write home about.  The meat is sweet, but in the sense of an out of season melon (same texture too).  The gel is tomato tangy but not kick you in the mouth so. 

Sliced and Salted Tasting: Salt improves the flavor.  It teases out some more of the melon sweetness from the meat and makes the flavor nicely balanced between sweet and tangy.

Cooking Thoughts: I would probably use this for a sauce tomato.  Because the gel is firm, it will deseed easily, but I think you would be better off, flavor wise, not to deseed this tomato as you lose the tangy flavor of the gel, which gives this a tomato flavor rather than a melon flavor.

Growing Notes:
This was a rather small plant.  Reading other reviews of it, I had heard that this was a heavy producer and technically, it did have alot of blossoms.  It looks like not too many of those blossoms got pollinated though.  There are empty bracts all over the plant where a tomato should be but there is none. I don’t know if this is a problem with the blossoms in that they just don’t pollinate well, or if it is a problem with a lack of pollinators.  I have been seeing bees in my garden pretty regularly, but perhaps they were just not regular enough.

Will Hanna grow this one again:
No.  While it is not a bad tomato it is not a ‘good’ tomato.  There is nothing special about it.  It is really just a girl next door tomato.  Why bother when there are so many others to choose from?

22 thoughts on “Dona: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2007
  1. Ellie on

    So, sounds like it tasted like it looked then, a grocery store tomato?

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  2. I love it that someone else does formal tomato tasting notes like I do! It really is like a nice wine or cheese, there are all kinds of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences.

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  3. I love it that someone else does formal tomato tasting notes like I do! It really is like a nice wine or cheese, there are all kinds of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences.

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  4. I really enjoy your tomato tastings ……Most of the tomatos I will never lay hands on …but that doesnt diminish my interest in reading about them …who knows ..maybe one day .

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  5. Hanna on

    Ellie – It was better than a gracery store tomato because there was some flavor. Grocery store tomatoes are no more than cardboard really. It just was not a spectacular tomato, is all.

    Meryl – Do you publish yours? Let me know the link and I will be happy to refrence them on the Tastings page. The more tastings the better!

    melissa – Oh, I don’t know. There might be some nice American garden blogger whose not afraid to break the law a little who might be willing to send you some seeds of what ever your would like. ;) Drop me a line if you would like some seeds from any of these. I would be more than happy to send them.

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  6. evelyn on

    I enjoyed your tomatoes notes. I have a question where taste is concerned, why are my tomatoes so sour, did I do that? Or is it just the tomatoes fault.

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  7. Hanna on

    evelyn – What variety of tomato are you growing? That does make a difference in the taste.

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  8. evelyn on

    I don’t really know. Do you think it was viriety that made them sour not me? I wanted and thought that I was growing tumbling tom. What grew was a very short bushy plant with plum size red round tomatoes. I live in New York, and this was my year of vegetables. I am unable to contain my excitement and wait for the store to get in the plants. Do you have any ideas of what seeds I should “try” to grow next year?

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  9. Hanna on

    I would be willing to bet money that the variety was what made them sour. :)

    Gosh, what to plant for next year? That is such a preference thing. I am a big fan of black and purple tomatoes. A “purple cherokee” would probably be avaliable at a nursery near you and certainly you could order or trade for the seeds if you were up to growing them from seed.

    If you are up to growing seeds – I just did a tasting this year on a yellow one called “persimmon” that was excellent. My husband is a big fan of “black etheopian” tomatoes. I like them too, but I like the purple cherokee better.

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  10. Maybe you should try the actual hybrid, not some ‘open pollinated’ semi-version. They are two different tomatoes.

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  11. Tom on

    I live in Northeast Ohio. After over 20 years of growing over 50 varieties of tomatoes, I would like to tell you that of the available varieties that I have tasted, the Dona hybrid (bought through Shepherd’s Seed, currently out of business) was the top tomato that I have grown – exceptional in all counts – plant size, very heavy yielding, good size, deep red color, juicy, firm, and above all, fantastic flavor. By the sound of your review, you may not have gotten the real thing. I have had disappointing results from buying from second tier seed companies after my primary sources were sold out. Also, the open pollinater varieties of Dona are a sorry example of the true Dona, even though they are sold as “having all of the same qualities of the hybrid”. What makes me confident that you were sold a counterfeit were the desriptions that you gave – baseball round, where the Dona is somewhat flattened; the size is medium to large until you get to the top of the plant; then the flavor being nothing to write home about nailed it – the Dona is one of the top 3 tomatoes I have ever grown for flavor. Yield can fluctuate depending on soil, fertilizer, etc. but on average I was getting 50 to 60 tomatoes per plant with the best plants producing 80 on heavily branched 6 to 6.5 foot plants. I will add that I don’t trim the bottom branches off the plant, instead I put each plant in the middle of a 6′ tripod made of 1″x1″ wood poles. Sorry to go on and on but I wanted you to know that the Dona hybrid is a premier tomato, really tops in flavor. If you get a chance to retry this variety, and are sure of the seed, you will appreciate the qualities of this fine variety.

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  12. Joyce on

    Tom, where can I get the “true Dona”. The only ones I have found are the polinaters.
    Thanks, Joyce

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  13. Joyce – Last year John Sheeper’s seeds had them. This year they don’t. I’m looking for them now. If I can find them, I’ll let you know. Don’t bother ordering from Reimer seeds -they are bogus (my opinion).

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  14. Joyce on

    Tom, thanks so much. I am still looking but haven’t found them. I tried some of the pollinator type this last summer. They were not good.

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  15. Joyce on

    Tom, I found some Dona seeds at Tomatofest.com. Are these the right ones?
    thanks, Joyce

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  16. Susan Martin Cherry on

    Wow! I’ve stumbled on to this website looking for my own Dona seeds or starts and I was going to comment to the contrary regarding the characteristics of the great Dona. Then I saw Tom’s comments and I agree totally. I was put on to the Dona by a local grower when I lived in the avodado capital, Fallbrook Ca., and he provided me with his seedlings until they changed locals. Then I was able to get the good seeds from Shepherds, but they are not in business now. Since then I have purchased from Riemers, but the results were disappointing. If you or anyone else is listening, where is a good source for this or next season?

    Susan in Oceanside Cal.

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  17. Joyce on

    I have planted Dona seeds from Tomato Fest. I will find out how they are and leave a note here.

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  18. Just harvested my first several of these today, and Hanna is right. The flavor is okay, but the texture is indeed mealy, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why this one gets the good reviews it does from some quarters, particularly those in France. Ah, zee French…

    It’s not just that the flesh is mealy. As Hanna notes, the gel is pretty tight, and the overall effect is that the insides are just too dry and grainy. Frog eggs??? I am not at all reminded of them.

    Unlike Hanna’s, my plant is quite prolific. I’ve got a ton of them coming along and I guess I’ll be in the sauce business.

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  19. I have been harvesting Dona’s for the last few weeks. The bushes are healthy and strong and covered with tomatoes. The fruit is well shaped, skin is blemish free and firm. The taste is OK, not great, but much better than store bought. I bought these seeds in a packet called Patio plants from Tomato Fest. All seedlings grew.

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  20. AFter reading all your comments with interest, I’m writing to let you know that White Farm(s?)a grower of Dona tomatoes and sells the seedlings. Their site can be found through Google. Last year, I ordered Rompano tomato seedlings as I heard they had the perfect tomato flavor. Come harvest time last year, the taste was okay..but I’m not ordering them this year…that’s why I’m researching the Dona variety. (Richard in Cleve, OH)

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