Heritage tomato varieties include over 600 different types, of all shapes, colors and sizes. Although you won’t find a sky-blue tomato, you will find orange, yellow, pink, green, dark crimson, brown and striped fruits, in addition to the traditional red. Heritage, or heirloom, tomatoes are old-fashioned varieties that are not generally grown for mass markets, but they will add interest and old-fashioned tomato flavor to your garden and dinner table.
Originating from the Black Sea area near Turkey and Russia, the Black Krim is a beefsteak type of large tomato that is such a dark mahogany color it is nearly black. Because it’s a determinate type and the tomatoes are large, this plant will produce a large crop of fruit in mid-summer and only a few additional tomatoes late in the season. The intense, salty flavor and the unusual dark color and slightly flat shape make it well worth growing in the summer vegetable garden. Grow the Black Krim in a sunny area with slightly acidic soil and water it when the soil is dry. Provide stakes or other support for the large tomatoes.
Winner of the 2008 Tomato Fest heirloom tomato competition held in Carmel, California, this tomato originated in Russia and is a beefsteak type of large tomato. The slightly flattened fruits can grow as large as 6 inches in diameter with a good balance of acid and sweet tastes, according to the Tomato Fest website. If you live in the Pacific Northwest or another area where summers are cooler, the Paul Robeson will perform well.
San Marzano Redorta
This Italian paste tomato is larger than many of the other so-called sauce tomatoes: the fruit can grow to 4 inches long and weigh up to 8 oz. The San Marzano Redorta tomato is also good for eating raw and makes a good addition to salads because of its lower water content. One of the winners in the 2008 Carmel Tomato Fest competition, this tomato plant is indeterminate, so it will continue producing fruit all summer long, starting about 80 days after you plant it.
Judges at the 2002 Tomatomania competition in Los Angeles chose the tasty, juicy grape type Sweet Olive heritage tomato as their number three winner. Plants are determinate, meaning they remain compact, but they produce large numbers of this oval-shaped tomato. Tomatoes will begin to ripen about two months after planting.