If you are anything like me, you are already spending time pouring over all of those seed catalogs that are showing up in your mailbox! I’ve got a table full: Baker Creek, Sow True Seed, Seed Savers Exchange…Sometimes it can be hard to narrow down your selections when there are so many choices to choose from! If I had it my way I would buy everything and try them all! Maybe one day I will, but for now I try to keep my selections to a couple new varieties and lots of old favorites.
Over the years I have tried LOTS of heirloom tomato varieties. Some produced well and some not. Some tasted amazing and some not so much. Here’s a list of some of my very favorite heirloom tomato varieties. Keep in mind that not all tomatoes produce the same in every area. I live in Western NC, and gardened for years in East TN- zone 6b to 7a.
10 Best Heirloom Tomato Varieties
1. Yellow Pear
For years I grew red cherry tomatoes for the kids to snack on, until one year we tried these little yellow pears and everyone suddenly had a new favorite. These little tomatoes are only about 1- 1.5″ and one plant will put out a ton of tomatoes! We love these best for fresh eating- straight from the vine!
2. Amish Paste
I discovered this paste tomato about 3 years ago and it has been a staple in my garden ever since. It is a delicious Roma-type tomato that has an amazing flavor. It produces well and is just perfect for making sauce!
Hungarian Paste tomatoes came into my garden about the same time as the Amish paste and are my second favorite paste tomato. They are a potato-leaved variety with good yields and a nice flavor. I like to combine the subtle differences in flavors in my sauces and the Amish/Hungarian paste combo adds a nice depth.
4. Abe Lincoln
The Abe Lincoln tomato is a nice, meaty slicing tomato. It produces fruits that are amazingly uniform in shape, about 5-7 inches in diameter. I love the uniformity of this variety- it makes a nice market seller! It produces throughout the entire growing season and seldom cracks like many other tomatoes are prone to do.
5. Ace 55
I received Ace 55 as a free packet in a seed order a few years ago and I am so glad I did! It is a sweet tomato, with a less acidic taste. Great for eating as fresh slices or on a sandwich. Like the Abe Lincoln it makes a great market tomato due to it’s resistance to cracking and bruising. This one proved it self worthy this past summer when we had more rain than I can remember. While all my other tomatoes were wilting, rotting from the inside out, and struggling to survive these tomatoes held strong producing lots of nice uniform fruits!
My 12 year old son purchased the Golden King of Siberia this past year. They produced amazing bright yellow fruits that are somewhat heart shaped. For their size they were surprisingly meaty without a lot of seeds. They had a nice sweet flavor that quickly became a favorite amongst my kids. It also made a nice and colorful addition to salsa and sauces!
7. Green Zebra
Green Zebra tomatoes are small, yellowish tomatoes with green stripes. They produce a nice yield with a sweet, tangy taste. They are beautiful to look at, cook with and are sure to make a great market seller!
This is another selection by my 12 year old son. He wanted white tomatoes- which I was not so sure about! But these produced quite well and my other boys loved their flavor and texture- saying that they were very smooth tasting. The thing I liked best about these white tomatoes were that they seem to be resistant to chicken pecking! The chickens that made it into our garden would pass over the large, white, ripe fruits in favor of the bright orange and red ones.
You can’t go wrong with a Roma when it comes to paste tomatoes! They are my original paste tomato, and I still love them! They have high yield, amazing sweetness and flavor. They make a wonderful sauce, salsa and paste, especially combined with the Amish and Hungarian Paste varieties.
The Orange Farallones Tomato is a very large and meaty, beefsteak variety. They have a everything going for them- yield, flavor, size. Makes a great tomato sandwich! They are also meaty enough to be used in salsa without adding too much water.
I could add about a dozen other varieties that I have tried and loved, but I will stop with the top 10. I tried a lot of new varieties last year that show promise and if we get a less wet growing season this year I hope to see their full potential. What are your go-to heirloom tomato varieties? I’d love to hear your favorites!
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