What's your favorite Heirloom tomato?

shelley_t(z5 IL)March 2, 2009

I love Aunt Ruby's German Green I planted for the first time last year. They were the best tomatoes I've ever eaten! Too bad it didn't produce very heavily. I'm planning on giving it more space or putting more than one plant in. I didn't find anything special about Amish Paste; Giant Belgium's weren't very giant, and I didn't like the Black Krim's at all...although my mom who likes a low acid tomato did.

I shared my seedling starts with my neighbors and they all turned out different. One neighbor loved one called Hank.

I'd like another paste tomato and a Beefsteak, but what to choose?

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I've heard good things about Rio Grande, a nice productive, heat resistant plum. But I haven't grown it. Rocky, is an extremely flavorful plum tomato which grows on tall plants. I really like it. But until one has tried, one never knows how it will do in a given area. I could hardly grow it in NJ, due to blight. In Indiana and in Illinois I've heard folks have good results. Also, there is a Seed Savers Exchange member who had grown it successfully in Georgia. I'm going to give it a go, here in Oklahoma this year.

There are LOTS and LOTS of good beefsteaks out there. Of the ones Tomato Growers Supply has, if I had to choose, I'd probably go with Pruden's Purple. But I'm not as widely experienced with numbers of varieties as some on the "growing tomatoes" forum.

Here's a link which lists the plum tomatoes.

Tahlequah, OK

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato growers supply/ plum tomatoes

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 3:34PM
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Why not try Opalka and Mule Team. I'm growing 3 of each here in N. VA.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:28AM
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For plum tomatoes I really like the taste of Black Plums. They are more on the tart side, but tasty.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 2:25PM
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in paste tomatoes, Heidi is very good. Rio Grande is productive and otherwise a good tomato for sauce, etc. Opalka is not a paste type, it is an elongated tomato with a point somewhat similar to those pointed end lightbulbs like I have in my house. It is a good tomato for all around use, but not really dense enough to make a good paste tomato.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 1:17AM
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i had black plum and liked it a lot. my other favorites were ildi and cherokey purple

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 4:35PM
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Pineapple tomato is my current favorite beefsteak, and they do well in IL.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 9:43PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Aunt Gertie's Gold has outstanding flavor.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 1:08PM
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cookie8(zone 5 ON)

I love Green Zebra. Unfortunately, I killed them all last weekend as I left them out in the sun too long and the cool weather got to them. I planted some more yesterday - I just hope it`s not too late.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 8:53PM
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My husband's and my favorite is still black Brandywine! I started some other Brandywine seedlings this year, to see how those specifically compare (pink, red, yellow).
I've never tried a bad heirloom though, TBH! :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 5:41PM
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monkeydo56(z8/Fort Worth)

I absolutely love Brandywine, but I'm trying it for the first time in North Texas. Has anyone had success with this variety in such a hot climate? I'm also trying Cherokee Purple which is supposedly a little more adaptable to this climate.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 9:02PM
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Depends on what you want from a tomato.

Ildi mentioned above is a small yellow pear tomato.

I have planted Opalka for the first time this year and thought it was a paste tomato, someone above said no.

Green Zebra is always a favorite in my garden. Kellogs Breakfast, (large yellow). Carmello, mid size red as is the Rose de Berne. I like Brandywine, (dark), Pineapple, (yellow), Green Zebra, or if you can find it Big Zebra, (greens), San Marzano, (paste), German Giant, (large red).

I plant 15-20 different heirloom varities every year. Hard to pick a favorite. Can you tell??

Best place to buy is www.tastefulgarden.com

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 12:45AM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

Gold Medal Yellow. I had so many, they were mild and low acid, and they made great spaghetti sauce.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 6:32PM
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Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, because thats what I'm growing this season ;)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 8:44PM
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Green Zebra is also my family's favorite. Outstanding in salads and just fresh eating. Unfortunately, the seeds I purchased this year (in a packet labeled green zebra, from a company who shall remain unnamed) did not produce green zebras! Of the six plants I chose, three are producing italian type tomatoes, and three some type of beefsteak like fruit. No green zebras anywhere in my garden, so no switched labels at fault. I purchased 4 green zebra plants from a local nursery 10 days ago. Couldn't let the family down on our favorite tomato, even if they will be late....

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:22PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

I like Dr. Wyche Yellow. Don't know if it is considered heirloom but we like it.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 1:19AM
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Hands down is the Millionaire Tomato!!!!!!! They are amazing and grow pretty much anywhere with little effort. great flavour =D


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 11:25AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

What ever is turning ripe on the vine at the moment. ;

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 12:02PM
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For years my favorite was Big Rainbow (beefsteak with yellow and red striation). Then I tasted Vintage Wine and now it's my favorite, though I haven't tasted a vine-ripened heirloom tomato I didn't love.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 6:41PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

My Opalka's are very meaty, few seeds, make a good paste tomato for me.
Our taste is different, I suppose, but we love Ananas Noire, third year on them.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 10:20AM
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Monkeydo, I haven't tried Brandywine because I've been told that potato leaf pinks just don't do well in hot climates (I'm a fellow Texan), though I might try them some day just in case.

On the other hand, Cherokee Purple is one of my favorites, and also a favorite of a lot of the small farmers around here who sell heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's markets. They're a good source of information since they're trying to make a living off growing tomatoes and can't bother with varieties that don't perform well.

Besides differences in personal taste, I think it's good to look at where a person lives when they recommend (or diss) a certain tomato. It seems that dark colored tomatoes tend to do better in the south than in the north, and this also may explain why some people say Opalka is a good paste and others say it's watery. Maybe it just turns out watery in certain areas of the country.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:15PM
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I absolutely love Green Zebra. It has a neon green skin with darker zebra stripes on the outside and nice pinkish flesh on the inside. Another one is the Mr. Stripey variety. Nice and pale green on the outside with pinkish and red insides. Very pretty!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 9:13PM
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hands down cherokee purple and brandy wine black. both very tasty and moderate producers.had a unknown in my seedlings this yr, looks like a roma in shape but dark color like the cherokee,real meaty tomato with a bw taste.very good producer, will definutly be saving some seed for next yr.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 12:47AM
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I agree on the Cherokee Purple and Brandwine Pink. We also had success with Omar's Lebanese and Druzba last year too. This year I am hoping for positives with Corbin Bue and Goldman's and Break O Day (Baker Creek).

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 9:02PM
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I would have to say Cherokee Purple. I have tried Brandywine (OTV Strain) and was not impressed but towards the end of the season everything tasted great, I think because we were watering less which concentrates their tomatoey flavor. A great orange tomato is Persimmon,

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 8:35AM
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Cherokee Purple

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 2:31PM
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vtguitargirl(Z4b VT)

I had great success with San Marzano tomatoes last summer, spite of the late blight.

My other favs include Pruden's Purple, Cherokee Purple and Jaune Flamme.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 11:06PM
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time2bee(8 Texas)

After reading this thread, I ordered some Cherokee Purple seeds ;)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 12:12PM
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I love Cherokee Purple, but also enjoy Red Brandywine, Pink Brandywine, Green Zebra, Fargo Pear.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 8:42PM
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laura21774(7 Central/Western MD)

This is my first season with heirlooms. We are growing Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter, Amy's Sugar Gem, Black Ethiopian Big Italian Plum, Early Wonder, and Anna Russian. So I should be able to tell you which is my favorite by August :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 2:34AM
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I'm loving this thread! This is my first year growing Heirloom tomatoes. I have a Cherokee Purple, Brandywine and a Green Zebra. We'll see how they come along! You all have given me ideas for next year! Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 8:28PM
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spaghetina(SF Bay Area)

I've only ever eaten heirlooms grown by other people, of which Cherokee Purple has been my favorite, but this year, I'm growing my own and seeing if anything tickles my fancy. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I'll have a clear winner between CP, Cherokee Chocolate (I know - should be about the same as CP, but I'm still curious), Omar's Lebanese, White Rabbit, Gold Medal, KBX, Amish Paste, Stupice, Black Krim, Persimmon, and several (stabilized, I think/hope) varieties from a local nursery. I was going to try Neves Azorean, but my plants looked absolutely awful, and I didn't have enough time to go back to the grower on the one day they were offering replacements. I may still try to salvage the one plant that wasn't completely taken over by infection, but it's not my top priority at the moment. Gave some serious thought to trying Brandywine, since for some reason, I've never come across a tasty one, but I decided against it for that very reason.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:54PM
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This is my first year growing heirlooms, so I'd love feedback if anyone has tried these... I've seen feedback above on Brandywine and Black Krim, but I also have an heirloom Cherry, Marglobe, and "Bloody Butcher." (What a name!) Anyone tried these? All of them are looking lovely, but it is way too long till I get to taste them!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 11:18PM
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I love that there's a wide variety of suggestions on this thread. Since my above post I bought a Carbon and Paul Robeson heirloom tomato plant. I'm mostly curious as to the taste between them all and finding my favorite. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 7:27PM
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I didn't care for Bloody butcher. So far, first year growing heirlooms. We like lime green salad, purple price, mr stripy and black krim. Waiting on green zebra but they look beautiful!
Hubby and I have decide we like the purple price the best. It's also been pretty early and prolific.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 6:05PM
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spudakee was good this year for me, dr. lyle is a very good tomato, box car willie is a great tomato

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 12:06PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Having a small garden I don't grow many tomatoes, I grew heirloom tomatoes for the first time last year 'Cherokee Purple' absolutely loved the flavor and two cherries, Cheerio (heirloom?) and Snow White. I'm growing these again this year.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 1:57PM
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jwr6404(8B Wa)

Without a doubt my favorite Tomato is Stump of the World. My second choice is Pale Perfect Purple.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 3:10PM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I grew Cherokee Purple, Brandywine Pink, Green Zebra, and a type of WVa heirloom, and Rutgers. I had a great tomato harvest this year and my families favorite was Rutgers followed by Green Zebra. The Rutgers was a heavy producer, uniform size and , for my tastes, tastes like a tomato should. Give them a try next year. luke

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Favorite tomatoes... Depends on what you want it for. The following are some of what I like:

Black Cherry - great taste, heavy production, doesn't keep long.

Black Icicle - great taste, medium production, keeps a bit longer.

Aunt Ruby's German Green - great taste, big beefsteak, good production, better form than a lot of beefsteaks.

Kellog's Breakfast - Large orange beefsteak with a good taste. Yield isn't very heavy.

Cherokee Purple - Large beefsteak with a great taste and average production, though it doesn't keep for long.

Gold Medal - Large Yellow/Orange/Red bicolor beefsteak with heavy production and a wonderful taste. One of the best I've tasted.

Green Grape - medium to heavy production, really good taste, keeps for a while once ripe/picked. Has a bit of yellow in it when it's ripe.

Golden Sunray - medium sized orange tomato, average production, good taste, keeps for a bit.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 3:26PM
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LoboGothic(6b SW Ontario CANADA)

Auriga is our "must grow" every year. Mid size yellow with pink blush inside, a bit seedy (green gel) but with a fantastic piquante flavour. Attractive salad tomato. Dependable, early, keeps well on plant.

Most heirloom tomatoes are winners, imho.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 11:43AM
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I am trying several heirlooms this year Aunt Gerdie's Gold,Purple Cherokee, Green Zebra,Black Crimson,Big Rainbow, and Burpee's Jubilee 1943. Last year I planted several tomatoe plants and everyone was great. This year I decided to go heirloom. Hope all goes well.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 1:40PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

I've messed with heirloom tomatoes for a few years with mixed success. Here in Central Arkansas, we often have wet springs, then the water shuts off and dreadful heat sets in forever. I try to push the earliest planting date possible and hope to get good growth and flower production before the inevitable heat. The best variteties I've found include: Pink Ping Pong (aptly named, prolific and tart.
Amana Orange: Large orange scalloped with deep flavor
Black Cherry: lots of fruits, cool contrast to red cherries
Cherokee Purple: everybody loves these!
Camp Joy: early and abundant smallish
Arkansas Traveler: gotta have these!
I think Brandywines are mythical in the south. I've only gotten maybe 1 fruit per plant. Not worth it. It seems that cherry tomatoes do best in heat.
The main thing to do when it gets (and stays) hot is to keep your plants alive. They will eventually start bearing again. It may be late in the season and you may even have to pick green tomatoes before a freeze, but it does justify having the plants around.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:37AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Well, most of the heirlooms I grow are seldom sold commercially, so the names may be unfamiliar.

"Tiffen Mennonite" (pink) and "Sojourner South American" (red super-large oxheart) for slicers.
"Nocoviotis Orange" (mid-sized) for fresh use, it is almost like a miniature orange beefsteak with a sweet flavor.
For paste, I like "Quebec 1121" and "Salus", both red varieties that are early, firm, and dry enough to chop without turning to mush.
The elongated tomatoes like "Federle" and "Gilbert Italian Plum"... they tend to ripen late along with my peppers, have few seeds, and make great salsa.
"Elfin", an OP grape tomato with semi-bush habit & incredible yields.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:44PM
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The best tasting slicers in my garden in Utah grown in sandy soil are Marianna's peace and Julia Child. I have also had good luck with brandywine pink and suddeths (same?), But with most of these I had low production.

From a higher producing plant taste wise (in order), I like Brandywine OTV, Italian heirloom (very close second), black krim, amana orange, Sunset's Red Horizon (aka Rostova) brandywine red, moscow, green zebra, cherokee purple, . All of these I find favorable but some more than others.

Tomato varieties I am neutral on for taste were Black, Paul Robeson, Big Rainbow, vintage wine, clint eastwood's rowdy red, pineapple, san marizano, amish paste, perssimmon, azoychka, Dagma's perfection, bulls heart.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 11:48AM
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Here are just a few of our favorites- last year i grew about 30 different types of tomatoes
Black cherry - like gblack said, they don't keep long.

Purple Calabash is one that I tried for the first time last year, and they became a new favorite - their rippling shape is amazing, their taste is a little more acidic.

Opalka - use allot for salsa, sauce, tomato soup. Very similar to romas. I not sure of the difference. Not as watery as most tomatoes.

Sub-arctic plenty - these are great because they are more cold tolerant than most tomatoes, and so I start them allot earlier.

Sun gold select II - these are a sweet cherry tomato, that I grew for the first time last year, and they quickly became a favorite. Great taste!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Estler's Mortgage Lifter so far. I am trying NAR and Chapmans this yr and maybe Giant Belgium and Omar's Lebanese....I have the seed but havent decided for sure. But I am big on pinks, and bi-colors then yellow/orange and reds last. I have never tasted a bad tomato from my garden....some are just better than others. I really like the sweet taste of Mr Stripey and weighed one last yr that was 24ounces. I'm big on size too...lol. I grow three cherries...yellow/white and orange and
am going with Black Cherry for the first time.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:17PM
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lorabell NC(8)

Black Krim were the best for salsas. Great taste. I also had a dickens of a time with my Brandywines now that I live in NC. Maybe one fruit total from all 8 plants I grew, all varieties from black to yellow. Not good. Chocolate cherrys did well and did the best for deyrating in flavor. Other then that I have no favorites as I'm addicted to them all. I've over 45 varieties this year started ..perhaps I went a little overboard....

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:34PM
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I agree the Cherokee Purple is an excellent tomato.
The Paul Robison is even better as I remember, but very hard to find.
If you like to dry tomatoes, the Green Zebra is a good one.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 11:30AM
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We grew about 800 heirloom tomatoes this summer, testing 11 varieties. We sell to several restaurants in the Central Arkansas area and the farmer's market. Our niche is large, great tasting heirloom tomatoes. We need flavor, good size, productivity and a tomato that makes it to ripe with a decent appearance. Our best three without a doubt were Carbon (a big dark red), Goldie ( a large golden, not yellow, high acid tomato and Annis Noir, a tomato that when dead ripe is green with red marbling. A little experience is necessary to know when this French heirloom is perfect but you learn quick and it is a fantastic tomato. I almost forgot, we also were extremely pleased with German Giant--big early flush of huge great tasting red tomatoes then a quick die off. There is a lot of competition growing heirlooms and we find it helps to have a color different from fire engine red and we also have found that small heirlooms are more common that truly large ones. Large is tougher to grow--they cat face and often, not as prolific and sell for more. I agree with Pauln that in the South, Brandywine is a non-productive tomato, one that I don't think taste any better than a Carbon. Other years we have had great luck with Oxxacan Jewell and Mariannas Peace but when we planted in subsequent seasons, they did not come through. These four appear to be great, dependable heirlooms in a very harsh climate.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 4:17PM
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I have been growing heirlooms for about 8 years now and love them. Some do stand out to me more than others.
1. I Love Carbon, great tomato.
2. I also love, love Mariannas peace.( I call it my favorite)
3. I have to have Black cherry.
4. My daughter and I love Spoons, they are pea sized tomatoes that have great taste. My daughter is 2 and picks them off the vine.

These are the 4 must have tomatoes in my garden.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 3:12PM
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meander(NJ z6)

NJ may be the most well known tomato growing area, but not because of it's name...I found Jersey Devil to be the most flavorful I've ever grown.
Grew it for several years before I even knew it was classified as a paste tomato.
My next and newest favorite is Sioux. I don't know if it's an heirloom. I like full flavored acid tomatos so the low acid tomato lovers won't be happy with these.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 12:55PM
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daylilydude(7 Tishomingo Ms.)

Spears Tennessee Green...

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 7:58AM
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Hi, have to say my two faves are Matt's Wild Cherry and Mortgage Lifter followed by Cherokee Purple.

Trying 8 new ones this year Black Krim, Paul Robeson, Lederle, Speckled Roman, Dester, Italian Heirloom, Caspian, and Rutgers.

"OK tasting tomatoes, not an option" Keep tryin new ones. Peace

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 10:29PM
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As a gardener who once nearly swore off ever growing tomatoes again because they just didn't perform well for me in my zone, I have to say I am thrilled with the Cherokee Purple heirloom that just keeps producing! The fruits are large and gorgeous, juicy and prolific! I have personally never grown such large tomatoes before, and it wasn't for lack of trying. I picked so many pounds of tomatoes off of one plant last weekend that my husband was inspired to make a large pot of spaghetti sauce with them! So delicious! I will never, ever fail to have at least one of these in my garden every year from now on. Now I need to read about how to dry and store tomato seeds so I can have more of the same next year!

This post was edited by kassie2 on Thu, Jul 11, 13 at 10:32

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 2:25AM
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Ok, I had to add to my last review. Yesterday. my Gold Medal heirloom tomato plant was ready for its first harvest. These tomatoes are very pretty, striped yellow/ orange/red. I saw that another poster wrote that theirs were large, but mine are small to medium sized. OH MY are they ever delicious!! Quite possibly one of the very best tomatoes I have ever eaten, just bursting with flavor. Here is another keeper. Though for me it is not anywhere near as abundant as the Cherokee Purple, the beauty, flavor, and healthiness of the plant make it a "must have" in my garden next year.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Heirlooms Kelloggs Breakfst then I think it Purple Dog Creek I love the taste of an old fashioned tomato

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 12:22PM
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