The Benefits of Heirloom Tomatoes?

I’m wondering other than the cool looks/strips/shapes… why are you guys growing heirloom tomatoes? I know it’s fun and interesting to do so, but if I’m short on space is there any other tomatoes I should grow other than a tasty Cherry tomato, Rutgers for slicing & a nice Roma tomato for pasta sauce?

Looking forward to your thoughts.


I love growing black krim because it produces well in our climate and puts out a super tasty tomato. It also deals with blight better than anything else I’ve experimented with.

Hybrids are just crossed heirlooms, I don’t see much difference except you can save seed from one, and not the other. Some of my friends have stabilized hybrids, it’s possible.[quote=“ross, post:1, topic:7007”]
I should grow other than a tasty Cherry tomato, Rutgers for slicing & a nice Roma tomato for pasta sauce?

Rutgers is an heirloom, and decent, but I like the darks better for slicing myself. Like Indian Stripe, Pink Berkeley Tie-dye, Girl Girl’s, or Tennessee Suited, I just reviewed today. TN Suited is not old enough to be an heirloom (50 years).
Roma I would not grow when we have Romeo, or Opalka which will produce early and Polish Linguisa for late season. These are much bigger than Roma, has ton’s more flavor. Their leaf to fruit ratio is higher, but that means more flavor just like any other fruit. Determinate tomatoes like Roma are nice in that you get a crop all at once, but flavor is greatly lacking compared to indeterminate pastes. I just freeze sliced until ready to make sauce. I can squeeze all kinds of water out after thawing. I also remove any gel or seeds before freezing.
Sure sometimes disease is harder to control,but I have never had it completely wipe out my plants. Most produce a long time before they succumb. The pastes I mention work for me. Some have had BER with Opalka, but I never have. These tomato cultivars did not survive for 100 years or more for no reason. Next year I’m growing Early Detroit, one almost lost, now we have it again thanks to one person who never stopped growing it.
I think it is important to keep the heirlooms around so we will always have choices on creating hybrids. Some may have very desirable genetics.

Very few hybrids have great taste. The hybrids are mostly made for good shelf life, do better handled, and look perfect. Some really good ones are out there, many plain just suck. They look great, but taste terrible.
Some hybrids make a lot of sense like say Brandy Boy which has the Brandywine taste, but easier to grow and more productive.

Romeo is lightweight, due to less liquid, they even feel light. These are for sauce only.

I had two Romeo’s fuse


1 Like

I grow Cosmonaut Volkov every year because I love the flavor, but it cracks easier than hybrids, and tends to get end blossom rot if I get them going too early. Christopher Columbus is an outstanding heirloom Roma type that is also very good for fresh eating. Noticeably better than any other Roma I’ve tried. If I could only grow one tomato, though, it would be a Sungold cherry tomato.

A hybrid. The cherry hybrids are excellent. The people who develop Sungold seed I think are in Japan? They will not reveal the cultivars they use.They also developed Sunsugar, and Sungreen, Others exit too.

I agree! Grew it (Sungold) for the first time this year and it will be the only cherry tomato I grow from now on.

The only advantage for me is flavor. Some heirlooms also look very unusual but I don’t care so much about that, I’m not looking at the tomato when I am chewing on it :slight_smile: They tend to be worse for diseases on average.

The problem is the modern hybrids tended to be bred for other things besides flavor, same with a lot of other modern breeds of fruit and veggies. Witness Alan’s recent FlavrBust peach.

Have y’all ever grown Betterboys, Bigboys? If you like flavor/acid, you will like these hybrids.

Well everyone,

You’ve opened my eyes. Thank you for the lesson.

Didn’t make many changes yet, but next year I’ll be going with Black Krim & Pink Brandywine instead of Rutgers. If disease isn’t too bad I’ll try some others.

Going with Amish Paste as my tomato for sauce (sorry Drew those do look tasty).
And I’ve been growing Sungold for awhile now. Definitely a good one.

I like to grow Principle Borghese as it is a smaller paste(?) that is easy to dry. I then freeze them in bags for pastas and pizzas. It is also more disease resistant for me than some heirlooms. I’m another Sungold fan.

That’s the problem with a lot of new hybrids - they’re bred to be sweet, while many people prefer the acid taste in a tomato

I’m pro acid. Betterboy is my preferred mater.

1 Like

Mine is Big Beef

1 Like

I’m with Drew on the Olpalka for a paste tomato.

I have grown the gamut of paste tomatoes trying to find the one that works best for me. This year I grew Olpalka for the first time. Wonderful flavour, huge for a paste tomato, and incredibly productive. No disease issues have show up.

I put my tomatoes on a cookie sheet, bake until the skins shrivel, put them in the food processor to make a puree and then freeze. Then in the winter when I take them out I can either make soup, sauce, or even juice.

I like the heirloom tomatoes simply because the flavour is exceptional. Chef’s Choice is the only hybrid I now grow. It does have an acid flavour which I am partial to
and my Hubby, who always said “a tomato should be red”, searches thru the days pickings to get these orange tomatoes first.

Amish Paste tastes good, but they really are not paste tomatoes. Too much liquid and seeds to be true paste tomatoes…I liked to slice them, just not what I’m looking for for sauce. I still have a number of pastes to test. I mentioned one that worked for me, many others yet to try. I will throw any tomato in for sauce, I just think it’s great to have true pastes as they take 1/2 the time to make sauce as regular tomatoes. A friend who grows acres and acres of tomatoes likes Costoluto Genovese. As the meat is firm, but these have a lot of seeds. She describes as the worst fresh tomato, and the king of taste when used for sauce. I grew them a few years and thought the sauce was good, but she is in Mexico and the heat makes them. Not as good here. I also tried Costoluto Di Parma, and Costoluto Fiorentino. Very similar, are named from the region in Italy they come from. I have also grown Costoluto Genovese sel Valente. Which out of all of these, I think is the best here. Another good one like the Costoluto’s is Russo Sicilian Togetta. Still I prefer the pastes.
Cow’s Tit looks very good, and I will be growing that one next year. Cuor Di Bue an all purpose tomato looks interesting too, from Italy also. A paste I have from Italy I have yet to try is Dix Doights de Naples. This one is a mini-paste and you can also use it like you would cherry tomatoes. I doubt I will like this one, but will try. Federle looks like a winner too, it’s decent fresh also, and is very firm. I like these types for salsa as they hold together, being so firm.
The hollow tomatoes make good sauce too, and are perfect for stuffing like Gezanhnte.
Sure, I have found many good ones, but the quest goes on to find even better.
Lurley’s Paste, Rinaldo, and Scatolone I have yet to try. The most famous paste of all time is of course San Marzano. I have had little luck growing it here. Some variations exist, that might work better here like San Marzano 2 . I have yet to try have seed though.
All the Italian tomatoes mentioned, most were bought from an Italian seed company. The same family runs the company which started in 1783 by Giovanni Franchi.The seed company has a few American distributors, like Seed From Italy, and Gourmet Seeds, others too. So are available to us.

When I first got into gardening I gave Cherokee Purple a try…they were supposed to do well in our hot Florida climate, but no luck at least for me…I’ve since given up on tomatoes. To much of a hassle and I’m disappointed every time.