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Which Heirloom Tomatoes did you prefer this Summer

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I just saw some Heirloom tomatoes at Wegman's Market yesterday. They all looked different from one another.

I assume that an heirloom tomato can be any named tomato from the past. I know there is one that I dislike very much, and some are yellow, some are this or that color, so each one must have a name.

Are there any that you particularly liked or suggest for next season's pickings or purchasing?

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  1. Don't know if you could possibly buy these at Wegman's (or any store), but if you are looking for something to grow yourself, the Brandywine is my favorite.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Terrie H.

      I like green zebras, brandywines, yellow romas, and blue beech.

      1. re: magiesmom

        I've never heard of Blue Beach! Do tell!

      2. re: Terrie H.

        I grew some beautiful Brandywines, they were a gorgeous golen orange yellow. Very meaty, with an almost squash like taste. The Black Krim's that I grew were out of this world GOOD, very juicy, robust, and a treat to get to eat.

        1. re: JEN10

          I also grew Black Krims this year and of the 10 heirloom varieties we planted, they were my favorite both for flavor and for yield. The Lemon Boys also had great yield and good flavor - they seemed to be that we harvested the longest and split the least (just picked the last one of those Sunday).
          The red Brandywine that we grew this year was the slowest to ripen and I wasn't crazy about the flavor. Maybe it was just that particular plant.

      3. My tomatoes underperformed this year because of an invasion of critters that kept taking bites out of tomatoes with the barest hint of red. But my favorite heirlooms over the last few years are Cherokee Purple (as well as many varieties with Black in their names), heart shapes such as Rlef Red Heart or German Strawberry, and Yellows like Yellow Brandywine, Azoychka or Kellogg's Breakfast. Sudduth's variety of Pink Brandywine is fine but there are many others with as good taste and better production such as Akers West Virginia and Andrew Rahart's Junbo Red.

        There is a great reference work on this very topic: Carolyn Male's "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden". Highly recommended!

        1 Reply
        1. re: DonShirer

          Lime green salad is a pretty good choice for a beginner. It tastes similar to Green zebra (they were bred by the same person and share some of the same parents) with the advantage that the plants are small enough to keep in a pot if you have to.
          Cherokee green is pretty good.
          About the only tomato I can reccoment strongly you avoid is Purple Calabash. It has its fands, but a lot of people (me included) find the taste a little off putting (it has a red wine note to it, so that it's a bit like having very cold, very thin Marsala sauce.)

        2. Another green zebra fan. Mortgage lifters are a nice meaty tomato. We grew Cherokee purples this year but it was a horrible tomato season for us this year and they amounted to nothing,

          2 Replies
          1. re: suburban_mom

            I don't know where you are suburban_mom, but we're in the Westchester, NY, and got almost nothing from our tomatoes. And my fig tree, which is usually so bountiful, didn't produce either. I think there was too much rain.

            1. re: suburban_mom

              we had good yield and less blight on Mortgage Lifter but if any of the others were ripe I ate the others first.

            2. Had a terrible tomato year, first wetness, then heat damage, then wet and a hurricane. The few pink Brandywines that survived weather, birds, and racoons were delicious. Copia, a hybrid of two heirloom varieties was late but very good. The only real success was a large yellow cherry: Margaret Best Tommy Toe, abundant and very tasty. Amish paste also did ok. A dozen other heirlooms didn't make it. Bummer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: therealdoctorlew

                Our tomatoes (and zucchini) pretty much got wiped out by a massive hailstorm in late June. Hail the size of ping pong balls ripped through leaves and tore blossoms and set fruit from the plants. They never recovered.

              2. My favourite of this year was a variety called Matt's Wild Cherry tomato. They are tiny and bright red, about the size of a cranberry, and absolutely bursting with concentrated tomato flavour. They're clearly not good for much other than just snacking, but I've picked hundreds off of my single plant, and it just keeps producing more and more. I wish the season would keep on going....
                Another one I really enjoyed was a black cherry tomato. Large sized (for the cherry type,) deep purple, very sweet and not too acidic. The skins were a bit thick on those ones, and I didn't get too many until the end of the season, but they were very tasty.
                I have to agree about the green zebras. Excellent. Low yield on that one for me, though.
                One I will pass on next year are the rambling red stripe. They were much smaller than I expected, and tasted of already-canned tomatoes. Also the yellow pear tomatoes in my garden were mealy and watery tasting, although very, very plentiful.
                I had picked up some amazing fruits at the farmers market this year, and I wish knew what type they were. Perhaps a brandywine? They were large and craggy as that type would be, but they had dark green shoulders, sometimes almost black, tinged with purple and dark brown. The inner flesh was similarly coloured. I will be seeking those out for sure, as those were the most full flavoured, juicy tomatoes I think I've ever had.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Allegra_K

                  We've had great luck with Matt's Wild Cherry over the years too. Amazing tomato flavor.

                  We are lucky to live around the block from DeBaggio Herbs, so every year we can try new varieties, and there are always new varieties. Check out their offerings. Good descriptions of each variety. We usually get a mix of heirlooms and hybrids like Better Boy (which will almost guarantee that your garden will produce something).


                  1. re: Allegra_K

                    Many people would call this size a grape tomato rather than a cherry. One interesting fact about this and the similar sized currant tomatoes is that they grow fairly well in a partially shaded area instead of the full sun most large varieties require.

                    1. re: DonShirer

                      Matt's is definitely a grape tomato, but the "official" name of the variety is Matt's Wild Cherry. They are tiny tomatoes, with incredible flavor.

                    2. re: Allegra_K

                      Allegra K, That sounds like a Cherokee purple to me. One of my favorites.

                      1. re: joaniebaby

                        Yes! I looked it up, and that seems to be the one. Thank you! I will definitely be growing these ones next year!

                        1. re: Allegra_K

                          Alternatively, could they have been Black Krim tomatoes?

                          The Cherokee purple tomatoes I've had always seems to have less "dark" flesh/stuff surrounding the seeds but are instead more reddish/orangeish - whereas the flesh/stuff around the seeds in Black Krim tomatoes I've had almost always were much darker/dark green/"blackish".

                          1. re: huiray

                            They both look pretty similar, but the flesh does seem to be darker with the krim's--I guess I'll just have to try out both varieties!

                            1. re: Allegra_K

                              These are my Black Krim, if that helps any.

                              1. re: JEN10

                                If you like Black Krim's you'll love Paul Robeson's.

                                My favorites this year, Paul Robeson for slicing tomato, Matt's Wild Cherry for grape/cherry tomato and Jersey Devils for plum tomato/cooking tomato. I didn't grow any this year, but fortunately one of my local farm stands sorts & labels all of his tomatoes by variety. Ah, I miss them already, only 9 1/2 months 'til the next batch.

                    3. One more for brandywine and green zebra.

                      1. I think they're Cherokee. Dark red with dark green around the stem, all turning black/purple at they ripen. Wonderful sweetness and meat.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: escondido123

                          Last season (it's spring here), Jaune flamme were really productive and tasty. A fun apricot colour too!
                          I always grow black cherry.
                          I have high hopes for my Aunt Ruby's German green. If the plants are anything to go by, they'll be fantastic.

                        2. The usual - for me. Black Krim, Green Zebra.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: huiray

                            Loved our Black Krim's!!! Big Brandywines were meaty, Romas great for sauces, and Red Siberians were lovely sweet gems.

                          2. +1 for green zebra, though I didn't get a good crop this year. Tried two new ones and they were winners; Berkeley Tie-Dye (groovy, man) was a good producer and tasty, and Paul Robeson, which was similar to Cherokee Purple.

                            1. Burpees Big Boy and a generic Chocolate Cherry have always grown well for us. We decided next summer to only plant these two varities.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: RedTop

                                Hmm, I thought Burpees Big Boy is a hybrid.

                                Now I'm wondering if persons refer to hybrids as 'heirlooms," too.

                                1. re: Rella

                                  Well, as I understand it the term is often applied to tomatoes that may not strictly have a "clean" lineage. Green Zebra, for example, was developed from crossing of 4 (I think) different cultivars and introduced into the market only in the 1980's.

                                  1. re: huiray


                                    I guess I'll have to do a little more research into what the definition of 'heirloom" is; and what particular tomato can actually be considered a heirloom. Thanks so much for pointing me in the right direction.

                                    1. re: Rella

                                      It is my understanding that the most important aspect of the "heirloom" definition is open pollination. Without open pollination, the seeds cannot be saved and passed down from generation to generation. It is my understanding that Burpee's Bg Boy is NOT an open pollination tomato - that if you saved the seeds from one of these tomatoes and attempted to plant them, you would not be successful in getting a plant that resembled the original.

                                      This past season (and it was a hard one here with very, very wet or very, very hot weather) I attempted Burbank Slicing, PIneapple, and Amish Paste. Without a doubt, Amish Paste was the winner. Ugly - yes. But incredibly tasty and a great multi-tasker. I put it in salads, on a sandwich, and of course it's dense flesh was great for a sauce and it had relatively few seeds to remove. One of the great surprises was how easy it peeled. It made it obvious why this one was considered a keeper by Amish women set to the task of peeling and canning a large crop. Easy peeling makes the job so much easier. I can't wait to grow more next year.

                                      1. re: centralpadiner

                                        Thank you for your information in your reply to me: "All heirloom seeds are open pollinated."

                                        I see that here http://www.southernexposure.com/open-...

                                        "All heirloom seeds are open pollinated."

                                        I was/am under the impression that this is the definition of 'heirloom" seeds.


                                        But, I'm not sure how many of the posters here have listed heirlooms, since


                                        says that "It is not an heirloom tomato."

                                        Or, for that matter, are some purchasing tomatoes that are called heirlooms when perhaps they are not open-pollinated.

                              2. Got almost all of mine at Whole Foods, where they were not labelled by variety. I recognized the black Cherokees and the pink Brandywines, and I'm guessing the ones with the dark stripes radiating from the stem end are the green Zebras. There were small and large yellow-orange ones, both very good, and a big orange variety with a sunburst of red on top; I have no idea what these are called, but as I was making salads out of mixed chunks of them I cared only that they taste good, and they all did. We've had that for supper almost every night since early August; sorry to see them go.

                                1. We had a rotten season, but I was really pleased with the Bloody Butcher (new to me this year) and the Persimmons (which we do every year, and I was amazed we got a bunch even in a cold year). The Bloody Butcher was a really nice one to grow - compact plant and compact fruit, but a heavy producer with good flavor.

                                  1. I didn't personally grow these this year, but the best heirlooms I had this year were a cherry tomato called Sungold and a grape tomato called Juliet.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: gilintx

                                      +++1 on the Sungold. Hands down, the best tomato (of any size) I have ever eaten. They thrived at our CSA this summer in spite of a wet spring, three weeks of heat and no rain in July, and a hurricane. Even at the end of the season, when we were just gleaning, you'd still see people searching for the last Sungold.

                                      I also love green zebras.

                                        1. re: Bob W

                                          Sun Gold is a hybrid. Which brings up a good point: flavor and personal preference are more important than hybrid vs open pollinated. "Heirloom" is such a fuzzy term, why worry about it. I agree that Sun Gold is an excellent tomato, but don't care for Green Zebra or Juliet (which might be a hybrid, but who cares?). Growing conditions, harvest time, and storage conditions prior to sale are more important. In my experience a vine ripened Early Girl from a farmer's market is better than most supermarket heirloom tomatoes.

                                          1. re: Zeldog

                                            I mght have noted this elsewhere, but we always grow a mx of hybrids and heirlooms. Varietes like Brandywine are certainly delicious, but the yield can be mediocre at best. (NB We've had better luck with Brandywine cousins like Red Brandywine and Black Brandywine)

                                            When you plant some Early Girls, Big Boys, or Better Boys, you know you'll get plenty of nice tomatoes.

                                      1. This was truly a dreadful year for growing tomatoes - they didn't start showing up in the farmer's market here until August.
                                        I planted 6 different kinds - the Black Prince died immediately. I planted a Brandywine and a purple variety that supposedly had 1# fruit. They had mislabelled the plants and I ended up with two Brandywines. The only variety that did well was Jaune flamme which is an orange cocktail-sized fruit.

                                        I like Brandywine, green zebra, Cherokee purple, black Krim.

                                        1. We're big fans of Nyagous, a black variety, bursting with juice and flavor. They did very well in NE OH, coming in early & we just finished our last one this week.

                                          1. Interesting that most responders have posted about the ones that they GREW. I think the OP was also asking about tomatoes that folks simply bought or got, i.e. not ones they grew themselves...
                                            I myself didn't grow any of the heirloom tomatoes I ate - I got them from growers at farmer's markets, some from a grower who was specifically growing many different varieties of heirlooms, some from a larger-scale farmer who nevertheless grew specific varieties of heirlooms as well, etc etc. Some growers had a mixture of "heirlooms", none clearly identified. The best Black Krim tomatoes I got were in fact from this 'larger scale' grower - big juicy ones.

                                            1. Since I never buy tomatoes, I can only report on what I grew! Ananas noire is a favorite--I have grown it several years now. It is a green tomato with pink/purple/yellow--looks awful in the garden, but slices are lovely.

                                              German Johnson, which is a big pink tomato, Cherokee purple, Golden Sunray are all delicious. I planted white current tomatoes years ago, and they return as volunteers--super sweet, little greenish yellow maters, that are mostly good for snacking in the garden. I think you could dry them and use them as raisins, if you were so inclined!

                                              1. sweet slice got my vote!

                                                1. I had more success with Black Krims than any other tomato I ever cultivated several years back. This year I planted black krims and some black cherries I bought from Burpee. They all sucked, what few there were, considering the resources lovingly lavished on them. My new yard is apparently not tomato friendly. all the tomatoes but one were potted. The one in the ground died first. I'm so bummed that I may never plant tomatoes again. I think I could fly to the midwest, pick a bunch up, and fly them back home for less than I spent on water, potting soil, etc.

                                                  1. I bought some at the local farmer's market during a lull in my garden's production. They were labeled Italian Tree and were excellent- acidic with a bold tomato flavor, not too sweet. I'm going to try and plant that variety next year.

                                                    1. I prefer any kind of black tomato (green on the shoulders, dusty pink on the bottom). I think Wegman's has Kumatos, and those are fantastic. Best grocery store tomato I've ever had.

                                                      1. Nobody mentioned Mr. Stripey! That's my favorite regular size tomato. Sweet and meaty! My other favorites are Cherokee Purple and Brandywine.

                                                        As for GROWING the tomatoes, i cannot get a Cherokee Purple to grow, nor can I get a Green Zebra to grow. Not sure why. Black Krim works better for me in the garden. and Mr. Stripey does OK.

                                                        But...for taste AND easy-grow...nothing beats the Sungold cherry tomato. So delicious and even I got a decent crop. My green-thumbed mother could have sold 'em commericially from 2 vines. She saved the seeds, planted, and here in November, I have a 3 foot tall plant w/ blooms on it that I'm bringing in and out of the sunroom based on the outside temps here in SC.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: danna

                                                          You will have to let us know if they bear actual sungolds. My guess is, since they are hybrids, they will not. My sungold laden compost always seems to sprout a small red pear shaped tomato,

                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                            OH! I will be so bummed. I have tiny pea-sized tomatoes now, and it's going to 65 today...so I hope to know before too long.

                                                        2. For sandwiches, we like the Black Krim. This year, we also had Julia Child and Paul Robeson which were also good.

                                                          For cherry tomatoes, the Sweet 100 and Sun Gold are good.

                                                          I like Green Zebra's in sauce. It is more acidic (can't think of the right word), It think than other tomatoes.