Did you know that the tomato is the most popular garden bounty in America? And in recent years, heirloom versions have become quite popular among gardeners and tomato lovers alike. The science behind heirlooms tells us that seeds saved from non-hybrid varieties produce plants quite similar to the parent plant – which offers us some more interesting and unique tomato flavors and types.
As with the more familiar hybrids, heirloom tomatoes are incredibly productive and disease-resistant – and unbelievably flavorful. Heirloom tomatoes come in all shapes, colors and sizes. On the outside, they are not always perfect: Some varieties, for example, split easily due to thin skins – one reason why one doesn’t see an abundance of them for sale commercially. Others, however, are like miniature works of art when sliced, with surprising veins of color inside.
Looking to grow your own, or wanting to know what varieties to choose at the farmers market? Here are a few of our favorite heirloom tomatoes, by color and use:
- orange (Orange Oxheart, a delicious beefsteak)
- green (Evergreen, another beefsteak)
- white (Great White, which can be up to 2 pounds, with pink inside)
- yellow (Chuck’s Yellow, beefsteak)
- gold (Gold Oxheart)
- purple (Cherokee Purple)
- black (Black Krim)
- striped (Tigerella, red with gold stripes)
- bicolor (Big Rainbow, gold with splashes of red)
- plum (Ernie’s Plump, great for canning)
- cherry (Rideau Sweet Red, although there are hundreds of varieties in all colors)
- stuffing (Liberty Bell, a red)
- beefsteak (Black Mountain Pink)