This week I will do my annual explanation of all the tomato varieties we get in the shares each week. Now that the later varieties are starting to produce we are starting to see a lot of different tomatoes. Some you may never have seen before, there are new ones for me as well. This year we have almost 30 different tomato varieties. Some I use just for the greenhouse, some are cherry tomatoes, some are heirlooms, and others are the classic red hybrids. We will take a brief look at each one and see how the seed company describes each. I get almost all my tomatoes from either Fedco or Johnny’s. I’ll attach pictures for some, but some are easy enough to describe.
Brandywine – These have always been a classic heirloom and some say they are what made heirloom tomatoes popular. They are usually one of my top picks each year. They are pink colored and have a “Meaty with just the perfect hint of tartness” flavor.
Green Zebra – I also consider this tomato on of my automatic picks each season. They are smaller tomatoes that are yellowish with green stripes. They are a good reliable tomato with good sweet flavor.
Aunt Ruby’s Green – These are also a green tomato and each year we always pass by them until we realize we are missing this variety. They can be hard to find since they stay green. The key to knowing when they are ripe is when they show a yellowish and pinkish blush on the bottom. It can have some fruit quality problems, but it is the best tasting green tomato I’ve tried so it sticks around,
Purden’s Purple – I tried this for the first time last year and I asked my self then and now why I grow it. Not because it tastes bad or that it does not produce well, but it is one of four pink tomatoes I grow. When I try it I am reminded that I like it because the taste is just as good as brandywine and it ripens a little earlier. The skin in a little darker than the pink brandywines, but they do look similar. The flesh tastes sweet and has a nice silky texture.
Black Krim – This is my replacement for the popular cherokee purple tomato. They are both the dark tomatoes, but I like these a little better. However, both has very little shelf life. Fortunately this year the fruit quality on them are pretty good, but we’ve still have several that ripened a little too much in the field and went bad very quickly. I really like the taste and the seed catalog says they have a “juicy yet meaty taste and texture, described as having “…a smoky flavor like a good single malt scotch””
Red Zebra – These are new to the farm. I had seen them before, but haven’t grown them here. I mainly like them for their look. The are red with yellow stripes down the sides. They are a little smaller than green zebra, but all you need is one for a sandwich.
Hillbilly – I am also trying this variety for the first time this year. I had looked up what heirloom varieties were the most popular or most liked and this was one of them. I hadn’t ever grown it so I thought it would be worth a try. They are similar to the striped german that I have grown in the past. They seem a little earlier and to have better fruit production and quality so far. They are yellow with red on the bottom.
Pineapple – Another favorite that I found was this one. It however, looks just like hillbilly and striped german. We’ll have to see what does better then I’ll take that one as a replacement for spriped german.
Jubilee – I have been looking for a nice plain orange tomato for a while. I was growing one called goldie, but it didn’t seem to produce nice fruit consistently. However, I’ve been very pleased with this one. The fruit has looked great and the plants look nice and healthy. However, I have not tasted them yet so they could just taste awful, I doubt it though. The seed company describes it as sprightly.
Great White – This is so far the best white tomato I’ve been able to find so far. There are things I don’t like about it, but it is pretty as it ripens. It has nice red streaks that come up from the bottom of the fruit. I like to have white tomatoes around because they are typically low acid, which this is a great example of. It has a nice smooth low acid flavor
Hybrids are a specific cross between two different varieties to get a tomato with particular traits that people want. Typically the traits that comercial tomato growers want is productivity, high fruit quality, and long shelf life. Selecting for these traits can often result in the flavor being sacrificed. However, there is a new mevement of breeders trying to have hybrid quality fruit mixed with heirloom flavor. I tried a few this year and they are pretty good, not quite as good as some heirlooms, but still pretty good. I’ll skip some and only mention the name of other because they are boring red hybrids I grow mainly for their reliability.
Pink Berkely Tie Dye – These are one of the new hybrids bred for flavor that I have tried this year. They do have nice flavor and are much better than some of my other hybrids. They also look pretty cool. The plants are not as vigorous as others, but the fruit quality is often better than other heirlooms. I’d say this one will be a keeper for next year.
Brandy Boy – Another pink tomato. They are great tasting and being a hybrid they are great producing tomatoes. Even though they look very similar to brandywine I love being able to rely on them to produce a nice crop.
Marbonne – These are a red hybrid, but they have some ridges on the top that look kind of cool. They taste pretty good and I’ve been impressed with how well they are doing in the field now that they are producing. It did take them a little longer than others, but I think we’ll have a decent crop now.
Defient – A small red hybrid that is great for a single sandwich or for salads.
Sungold – Orange cherry tomatoes that almost every year are my favorite.
Whitecherry – These are nice little white cherries that are low acid. They don’t produce a ton, but they are nice to have around
Black Cherry – These look similar to the black krim. They are a little bigger than some of the other cherries and they have a flavor that is a little deeper than some of the cherries that are just sweet.
Sunrise and Purple Bumble Bee – These are two different cherry tomatoes that are fairly new. They are both striped and slightly oval shaped. They have a pretty good flavor, but I mainly like them for the way they look.
Pink Princess – This might get close to my favorite cherry tomato. It is sweet like the sun gold, but have a little more depth to the flavor. They are nice little pink tomatoes, but they seem to split a little easier.
Jasper – These are a productive and sweet red cherry tomato. They are a little small for my liking, but the plants are super vigorous and productive.
Indigo Cherry Drops – These are really pretty. They start out purple color, but when they ripen they blush red. Make sure you look for them. They are pretty tasty as well.
Yellow Pear – Yellow oval/pear shaped tomatoes. I like the color and the shape, but sometimes the fruit will split a little along the top. I have not found one better yet so we get to stick with this one.