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Top Ten Best Heirloom Tomatoes

March 30, 2009 - Linda Grasso


Every spring I plant tomatoes for summer.  I usually go with the easy but boring southern California standards: Early Girl, Celebrity, Beefsteak etc.  But, my crop never really turns me on, and the truth is, I end up buying pounds of expensive heirloom tomatoes from farmer’s markets and my local upscale grocery store. The taste of a great heirloom tomato is beyond comparison – plus they’re so pretty on the plate with just a dash of salt & pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. 


So, this year, after doing some research, I decided to go entirely with heirloom tomatoes.  I read several articles and interviewed some of the best gardeners I know – including some tomato specialists at Tomato Mania in Encino.  At Tomato Mania hundreds of varieties are sold over a three-day period in March. And, that, in fact, is where I bought all my plants.  I only had three requirements for my purchases – that the variety yield a decent crop, that they mature in 90 days or less, and that they be able to handle several 100 degree days. Here’s the list of the best heirloom tomatoes culled from my experts:

1.   Black Plum – this variety was rated number one by gardeners more than any other

2.   Sungold Cherry – an incessant popper – small yellow tomatoes with a burst of flavor

3.   Brandywine – not a heavy producer, but the delicious unique taste makes it worth it

4.   Carmello – rated number one in taste by an NPR report I heard on the radio

5.   Black Zebra – a gorgeous black striped tomato that is more tasty than the Green Zebra

6.   Green Zebra – slice this on a plate of mixed heirlooms and it will definitely be the star as it is just gorgeous

7.   Jaune Flammee – this variety was mentioned several times as my experts’ favorite due to the perfect combination of sweetness and acidity

8.   Cherokee Purple – tasty and a unique color

9.   Super Marzano Hybrid – if you like to cook, this tomato is a must as it can be used in sauces or slow baked in the oven and then tossed in pastas, used as an h’or doeuvre or as a side dish

10. Gardeners Delight – other than the fabulous taste this variety is liked due to its short maturation time of 65 days







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Hi Linda,
This is a really great top ten list. I really enjoy heirlooms, they are my favorite type of tomato. Thank you for all the excellent suggestions. Thankfully I have a Farmer's Market nearby that has several farmers that sell multiple types of heirlooms. I haven't tried all of them, but your list has inspired me to explore. You can post this to our site and then link back to your site. We are looking for top ten lists and our users can track back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

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