Heirloom varieties are all the rage, but are they really better?
Last week’s post discussed how the differences between determinate and indeterminate tomato plants. But what if you aren’t planting your own? How do you decide which type to choose?
We prefer heirloom varieties.
First what is an heirloom tomato?
You may also see these referred to as “heritage” or “old time” tomatoes. These are the types that have been around for a very long time, as far back as the Aztecs and Incas. These are the varieties your grandparents would know and raise in their garden. Seeds from heirlooms can be saved to plant the next season and will produce tomatoes consistent with the variety. Non-heirloom or hybrid tomatoes will not produce from saved seeds.
Heirloom tomatoes are typically not those perfect globes found in mass market stores. They also have a shorter shelf life.
When we started the farm and began growing tomatoes, we conducted a taste test. We included a hybrid beefsteak tomato because of all the hype around those big red slicing tomato types like Better Boy. We lined up a slice from each with the variety name hidden and tasted. We quickly found our favorites. While the Better Boy had tomato flavor, it paled in comparison to the others. Our favorites were the German, which is a yellow tomato with a red stripes and Brandywine. These were bursting with full tomato flavor. We haven’t grown a hybrid since.
Your best bet to ensure a fresh, delicious, full-flavored tomato is to either grow your own or buy at a local farmer’s market.
Five Feline Farm will be at the 18th Street Farmer’s Market all summer with tomatoes in season as well as other fresh produce. Stop by and see us.