It's Time To Start Thinking About Heirloom Tomatoes

BlogHer Original Post

Every though tomato-growing season is months away in the northern hemisphere, it's not too early to start thinking about it, especially if you're going to be planting heirloom tomatoes. Also called heritage tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes are non-hybrid varieties of open-pollinated tomatoes. The name heirloom refers to how the seeds of some tomato varieties were passed on for generations, and there's widespread agreement among tomato lovers that heirloom tomatoes are often more flavorful than hybrid varieties.

Many heirloom tomato lovers start their tomatoes from seeds, and now's the time to be ordering them if you're going to be doing that. I've been growing tomatoes for close to 30 years, and I've been able to find heirloom tomato plants in Salt Lake for about the last 8 years. But even if I'm not starting tomatoes from seeds, every year I spend time debating just which heirloom varieties to try. Brandywine tomatoes have been my favorite for a few years now, but every year I love to experiment with new varieties.

Plum Tomatoes
Photo of Plum Tomatoes by Susan from
In My Kitchen Garden and Farmgirl Fare

For tomato season 2009, Gary Ibsen of TomatoFest has issued a list of the top ten heirloom varieties from last year. Here's his list, to get you started thinking about which heirlooms you might like to try, followed by a few recipe ideas and some heirloom tomato links to get you in a tomato-growing state of mind.

Brandywines (pink) have leaves shaped like those of a potato plant. They can produce fruit up to a pound, and are widely considered to be one of the best tasting tomatoes.

Paul Robeson (purple/black) is a variety which has a lot of fans.

Aussie (red) is an Australian heirloom variety which is a heavy producer.

Julia Child (pink) is a tall tomato with robust flavor.

Cherokee Purple (purple/black) is one of the varieties considered "black tomato" because of the deep purple color.

Black Cherry (purple/black) is a black cherry tomato, just like the name says.

Kellogg's Breakfast (orange) is a large orange tomato, endorsed by Farmgirl Susan.

Gold Medal (yellow/red striped) is a striped sweet tomato which is a German heirloom variety.

Aunt Ginny's Purple (purple/black) is a large German heirloom variety that many people compare with Brandywine.

Carmello (red) is a medium-sized round red tomato that comes from France.

(Links above which lead to commercial sites are for the purpose of giving information about each variety of heirloom tomato and are not intended as an endorsement of any particular vendor selling tomato seeds.)

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Photo of Heirloom Tomato Salad by Elise from Simply Recipes

Some Drool-worthy Heirloom Tomato Recipes:
~Tomato Bacon Sandwich from Christine Cooks
~Marco's Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
~Tomato Shiso Salad from White on Rice Couple
~Heirloom Tomato Basil Mozarella Salad from Simply Recipes
~Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese from A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen
~Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Pate di Fiora di Zucca from Albion Cooks
~Heirloom Tomato Sauce from Hedonia

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Photo of Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese
from A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen

More about Heirloom Tomatoes:
~Ingredient Spotlight: Heirloom Tomatoes from Slashfood
~Growing Tomatoes: How Many Plants do You Need from In My Kitchen Garden
~Tips for Growing Heirloom Tomatoes from Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas

If you're growing heirloom tomatoes (in the Southern Hemisphere) or planning to (in the Northern Hemisphere) we'd love to hear about your favorite varieties in the comments.

Kalyn Denny shares her passion for low-glycemic cooking at Kalyn's Kitchen. Kalyn is currently longing for summer so she can grow tomatoes and make things like Marinated Tomato Salad with Parsley and Marjoram Dressing.

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