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Tomato Picking Guide

Heirloom tomatoes are tried-and-true varieties that have been around for at least fifty years. They are rarely sold in grocery stores because they do not suit commercial production requirements, but are usually much tastier and more varied than what you can find on a supermarket shelf.

Our heirloom varieties come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Generally speaking, ripe tomatoes will look full and heavy, will be pliant to the touch, and should come off of the stem without much effort. Some varieties are best when they have what are known as "green shoulders," so don't worry about a bit of greenness if the tomato seems otherwise ripe.

You will probably come across some tomatoes that look different from those in the rest of the row. Because we save our own seeds, this is due mostly to planting or seed-saving error. See what you can find!

  • Bisignano: Small, very round, and pinkish-red when ripe. A solid beefsteak variety that makes a great slicer or sandwich tomato.
  • Black Cherry: Two-bite cherries with a dusky color and complex flavor. Don't be afraid of the green shoulders; they can be the best part.
  • Black from Tula: Don't be put off by these small, strange-looking tomatoes, mottled with shades of red, brown, and green. They are very tasty, with a rich, full flavor.
  • Black Krim: Ripe when red-brown, this tomato is rich and salty.
  • Brandywine: These large, reddish-pink beefsteaks are a tried-and-true favorite among tomato lovers. They have tender juicy flesh and a rich, spicy flavor.
  • Cherokee Purple: Delicious, medium-large, and rounded. Green around the top, fading down into shades of brownish-red when ripe.
  • Eva Purple Ball: Uniformly pinkish-red when ripe. Mild flavor.
  • Garden Peach: Beautiful little tomatoes with fuzzy skins and a rosy yellow hue. Sweet, mild, and delicate.
  • Green Zebra: Some of our most striking tomatoes, these are yellow with deep green stripes when ripe. Sweet, zingy flavor, small enough to eat in just 2 or 3 bites.
  • Hawaiian Pineapple: Dense, enormous fruit resembling a pineapple when sliced open, with faint streaks of red radiating from the middle. From the outside, looks anywhere from yellow with an orange bottom to orange with a red bottom. Has a delicious, fruity flavor.
  • The Hillbilly: A rangy plant with small fruits somewhere between a plum tomato and a grape tomato; nice flavor.
  • Indian Moon: Lovely oblong tomatoes, bright yellowish-orange when ripe. Mild and flavorful, perfect for adding some color and sweet, subtle taste to a meal.
  • Little Pink Plum: Cherry tomato with a beautiful pinkish color and a sweet, delicate flavor. Small and oblong in shape, perfect as an addition to a salad or as a tasty snack.
  • Livingston Beauty: Pinkish-red with green shoulders; pretty, sweet, and good.
  • Maule's Success: Orangish-red and medium sized, taste like your standard garden tomato; good for canning.
  • Milka's Gelbe: Nice large, round tomato, yellow with interesting flavors. Nancy's favorite.
  • Mortgage Lifter: Very large, often misshapen, pinkish-red with green shoulders when ripe. Flavor is sweet and good.
  • Mule Team: Beautiful smallish red tomato.
  • NoHo Paste: A local paste tomato with a long tapered shape and meaty flesh.
  • Orange Banana: A beautiful orange-colored paste tomato. Excellent for sauces or drying.
  • Persimmon: A wonderful orange slicing variety.
  • Paul Robeson: Named for the famous singer, orator, and crusader for racial equality and social justice, this tomato is one of the best. These maroon-brick
    fruits with green shoulders have a distinctive sweet, smoky taste. One bite will have you singing in the tomato patch.
  • Purple Perfect: Blemish-free, medium-sized, pinkish-red, and delicious.
  • Rose D'berne: Oblong, orange-red, pretty tomato.
  • Smilyan Pink: From the mountain village of Smilyan in Bulgaria, this breed is large, pink, sweet, and acidic. Good slicing tomato.
  • Striped German: A bi-colored fruit of red and yellow. Looks beautiful sliced. Complex, fruity flavor and smooth texture.
  • Thessaloniki: Baseball-sized, mild-tasting red fruits are the hallmark of this variety developed in Greece.
  • Tomatillo: This tomato relative, also known as husk tomato or Mexican ground cherry, comes in a papery husk that splits when ripe. The flavor ranges from sour to sweet, depending on ripeness. Tomatillos are the key ingredient in salsa verde.
  • Trucker's Favorite: Mid-sized, pinky-red, sometimes with green shoulders. A flavorful tomato with a nice bite.
  • Watermelon Beefsteak: Very large oblong beefsteak tomato with pink skin, yellow shoulders, and darker flesh.
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