The Best Varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatoes must meet three criteria before being considered heirloom or heritage tomatoes, according to Taylor's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables. The tomato must grow "true to type" from seeds saved from each fruit; the seed must have been available for more than 50 years, and the tomato must have a history or folklore of its own. The hybrid tomatoes that are more commercially available than heirlooms have been developed to withstand the industry's picking, packing, and shipping processes. Heirloom tomatoes have been bred more for flavor than commercial production.


Brandywine has become a very well known heirloom variety, with folklore to go along with it. The seeds are said to have been collected by generations of Amish farming families in the Pennsylvania valley of the same name. Brandywine tomatoes come in black, pink, yellow and red, with some varieties weighing over 2 pounds each. Yellow brandywines have a potato-shaped leaf. They all grow on indeterminate vines, which means that they continue to grow all summer to a height of 8 to 10 feet.

Cherokee Purple

This tomato is said to have been originally grown by the Cherokee Native American people and it has been popular for over a hundred years. It is known as a relatively disease-free tomato that has a smoky sweet flavor. The tomatoes develop to 12 ounces on indeterminate vines that can reach 12 feet. All heirloom tomatoes grow well in soil that has been amended with organic compost.

Eve Purple Ball

Eva purple ball heirloom tomato is said to store well up to 14 days, according to the University of Florida's Extension system report on heirloom tomatoes. It is a German tomato that dates back to the late 1800s. It has pink fruit and a very round shape. It also grows on an indeterminate vine. This tomato comes to harvest in 80 days and continues to produce fruit until frost.

Stupice and Striped German

Stupice tomato has a short growing period and can be harvested in around 55 days. It originated in Czechoslovakia. The fruit is deep red, grows to 3 to 4 ounces, and has a very tangy flavor. The vines are indeterminate and the foliage is potato shaped. There are USDA Certified Organic seeds available for Stupice heirloom tomatoes. Red and yellow stripes characterize the striped German heirloom tomato that hails from West Virginia, despite it's name. The fruit grows to 2 1/2 pounds. The bi-colored flesh has a slightly tangy flavor and a very unusual look when sliced.

Keywords: heirloom tomato varieties, grow heirloom tomatoes, heritage tomatoes

About this Author

Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene; "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine:Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene," and "The Mary Magdalene Within."