Top 33 Heirloom Tomato Varieties | Passing on the Heritage
Tomatoes are some of the most coveted vegetables around the world. This makes it obvious why some rare heirloom tomato varieties are some of the most prized possessions in gardens across the world.
This fleshy, succulent fruit has been grown for centuries to satisfy the insatiable human appetite. No wonder most farmers and gardeners can barely get enough of these plants.
Let’s note that the definition of heirloom tomatoes is somewhat debatable. These types of tomatoes are definitely all open-pollinated or non-hybrid.
However, the exact year of when these are considered an heirloom tomato variety can vary.
Many agree that these types of tomatoes date back to before the introduction of hybrid tomato varieties somewhere in the 1940s.
For our purposes, we will date these heirloom tomato varieties to at least before 1950.
It makes sense for me to be considered heirloom as almost like how you define vintage or antique in age. Heirloom tomatoes are defined to be open-pollinated varieties and they survive 1-2 generations.
As a tomato enthusiast, you probably like to grow different varieties and gauge their performance. However, in case it is your first time growing tomatoes, you can’t go wrong with the heirloom varieties.
Before we list some of the best, let’s look at the various tomato categories.
Heirloom Tomato Plant Growth Types
The heirloom tomato varieties are grouped in three categories; the determinate, indeterminate and the dwarf tomato plants.
- Indeterminate Tomatoes
- These are popularly referred to as Vining plants because they continue to grow in length throughout the season.
- Unlike other varieties, these tomatoes keep ripening throughout the season without losing their vigor.
- In fact, the fruits continuously ripen until they are stopped and killed by frost.
- One of their most desirable qualities is that they provide a regular supply of tomatoes, instead of just giving you one grand harvest.
- Since it takes them quite a while to grow, they don’t ripen as fast as determinate tomatoes.
- Determinate tomatoes
- These are the kind of tomatoes that grow to a particular matched size within a single season and ripen uniformly in a fortnight.
- After the first batch ripens, the plant starts to lose its vigor, bearing either fewer tomatoes or no tomatoes at all.
- Determinate tomatoes grow to about 5 ft long or less.
- These types of tomatoes carry a heavy load of fruits, so it is extremely important to provide additional support for them through caging.
- Dwarf Tomatoes
- In case your garden is not very spacious; dwarf tomatoes would be perfect for you.
- These tomatoes can be grown in hanging baskets and containers conveniently.
- They only grow to a maximum of 3 ft and bear fruits that come in different colors, shape, and sizes.
- Additionally, dwarf tomatoes can either be determinate or indeterminate.
- Check out the dwarf tomato project for some really cool work on these here.
Indeterminate Heirloom Tomato Varieties | A Vine for all
Brandywine Tomato | This is one of the most productive indeterminate tomatoes. It can be harvested in 80 days after transplant. Usually, it bears fruits that range within 8-10 ounces. It is deep red in color and sweet when ripe and ripens throughout the season.
Cherry Roma Tomato | A Green thumb Gardener favorite that makes it into the garden every year. The Cherry Roma tomato is yet another tasty and spicy flavored indeterminate tomato. You can harvest these tomatoes from 75-80 days after transplant.
The Cherry Roma produces plum shaped tomato fruits which are red in color. The fruits continue ripening throughout the season.
Black Krim Tomato | The Black Krim tomato bears purple-red or violet-brown fruits, unlike the typical red colored tomatoes. The sun may sometimes influence the color by darkening it, but the plant produces superbly tasting fruits steadily throughout the season.
You should be able to start plucking the tomatoes within 70-90 days.
Kanner Hoell Tomato | You can expect some red beefsteak fruits from this plant, which grows to about 4 to 5 inches. The fruits weigh 1.5 pounds. You shouldn’t be surprised when this plant produces double fruits. The fruits will taste sweet and are known to have low acidity.
This type of tomato plant falls within the indeterminate category. Harvest begins between 80 to 90 days.
Cherokee Purple Tomato | This is a Green thumb Gardener favorite. Being an indeterminate plant, the Cherokee purple tomato is a steady producer of tomatoes. Its fruits have a dusty-rose brown color which can be up to 12 ounces.
It is a sweet, flavored, fleshy fruit that is ready from 75-90 days.
German Johnson Tomato | This heirloom tomato variety matures fully in about 90 days. It is a large meaty fruit that averages about 1-2lb and is a deep reddish pink hue. Extremely flavorful with a mild taste.
This tomato plant is super productive and will be a staple each and every year.
Gold Metal Tomato | This tomato plant produces orange-yellow fruits with a little bit of red. Most fruits from this tomato plant are flattened and large. The fruits ripen throughout the season as it is an indeterminate tomato.
You can harvest it between 75-90 days.
Italian Heirloom Tomato | This is an indeterminate tomato that bugged the SSEs 2012 tomato tasting award. The plant produces good sized fruits that weigh about a pound. These fruits are red in color and loved by people who like slicing and canning tomatoes.
Normally, the Italian Heirloom can be harvested within 70-80 days.
Amish Paste Tomato | For those farmers and gardeners who prefer succulent and meaty tomatoes. This would be the ideal tomato plant for you to grow. Its fruits come with some variations in color and weigh about 8-12 ounces.
This indeterminate tomato takes 85 days to fully mature for harvesting.
Hillbilly Tomato | Huge tomatoes are sometimes hard to resist. Luckily, the Hillbilly does not disappoint. You will be all smiles as you harvest your tomato fruits weighing up to 2 pounds.
Apart from the size, expect striking fruits, which typically have red and yellow streaks.
Japanese Black Trifele Tomato | Most tomato varieties need a lot of care, but this one is easily manageable. In fact, you can even plant it in a container. With staking, this tomato plant performs exemplary. The Japanese Black Trifele offers a smoky, yet fresh flavor.
Hugh’s Tomato | Hailing from Madison County, Hugh’s tomatoes are some of the highly sorted by both gardeners and enthusiasts. They are beefsteak in color with visible red markings. Besides being meaty and juicy, they have sweet lingering taste, especially when used on sandwiches.
The Hugh’s Tomato is an indeterminate tomato species, and its fruits are harvested in 85 days after transplant.
Mortgage Lifter Tomato | You must admit this tomato has an interesting name. It was named after the man who developed it as he was able to single-handedly pay off his mortgage from selling this gorgeous fruit.
This tomato plant bears large, red fruits with strains of green. In just 85 days, you are able to start plucking fresh tomatoes.
Pink Ponderosa Tomato | As its name suggests, this is an heirloom tomato that has a notable pinkish color. It is also meaty and perfect for slicing. The fruits produced by these plants have a consistent size.
You can expect a steady supply of tomatoes once it hits 85 days.
Amana Orange Tomato | This is one of the biggest heirloom tomatoes with an orange color. It is loaded with an amazing, irresistible flavor and is easy to take care of compared to other types of tomatoes.
Since it is indeterminate, it takes up to 90 days after transplant to harvest.
Blondkopfchen Tomato | This is an indeterminate tomato plant known for its cherry gold colored tomatoes. Once you plant it in your garden, you should be able to pluck your first tomatoes in just 75 days.
The fruit size can be compared with that of grapes. Though it has a sweet taste, you can also savor its fading citrus taste.
Azoychka Tomato | Azoychka is an heirloom tomato plant with a Russian origin. What sets it apart from other tomato varieties is that it is a high yielder. It is flattened, meaty with orange/ yellow tomatoes.
The fruits are sweet with a citrusy touch. It takes 68 to 78 days to fully mature.
Tiger Paw Tomato | Known for its high productivity, the Tiger Paw is a pale yellow heirloom tomato plant. Its fruits are riddled with cat-like paws. Although it is sweet, it has a hint of citrusy.
Tiger Paw is a good indeterminate that is characterized by a thin skin.
Hazel Mae Tomato | This indeterminate tomato produces 1-2 lbs fruits that are predominantly yellow in color with a few red stripes.
It has a sweet taste and can be harvested in 85 days.
Zarnitza Tomato | Zarnitza is an indeterminate plant with short stature. The fruits of this plant are buttery and sweet. In just 60 days, you will be plucking your tomatoes.
German Red Strawberry Tomato | The fruits of the German Red Strawberry tomato plant assumes the shape of a large strawberry. Fully grown fruits can weigh up to 2 pounds.
This indeterminate plant has a variety of flavors, but mostly, the fruits are sweet and you can harvest them in 85 days after transplanting.
Southern Night Tomato | These indeterminate heirloom tomatoes have a purplish color mixed with green. This heirloom variety takes about 80 days to harvest. This slicing tomato is perfect in salads, salsa, and cooking.
It has a taste that has been described as almost smokey and earthy.
Determinate Heirloom Tomato Varieties | Lots of Early Choices
Red Robin Tomato | Red Robin is one of the most popular determinate dwarf tomato plants. It is ideal for pots, hanging baskets and small gardens. It can flourish either indoors or outdoors.
The tomatoes are red in color and very sweet, with a good balance of tartness. The fruits take 54 days to grow and ripen.
Sophie’s Choice Tomato | This highly productive and flavorful determinate averages fruit weighing as much as 10-12 oz. These are best grown in Northern climates where the heat is not as intense.
This heirloom tomato variety ripens very early and is ready to harvest in about 55 days.
Wayahead Tomato | Here is another early heirloom tomato variety. The tomatoes are medium-sized and are bright red with smooth skin. This was a staple tomato at the turn of the century.
These tasty heirloom tomatoes are ready to harvest in about 60-65 days.
Scarlet Topper Tomato | This heirloom is actually a semi-determinate compact variety that has a mild flavor. You can expect this tomato variety to be very productive and is resistant to cracking.
These heirloom tomatoes are ready to harvest in about 75 to 80 days
Martino’s Roma Tomato | A Green thumb Gardener favorite. These plum tomatoes have a fantastic taste and perfect for sauces and canning. It has a very meaty interior and don’t mind a heavy yield, then go for these ones.
You can expect these to be ready for harvest in about 80 days.
Silvery Fir Tree Tomato| Here is another determinate heirloom that grows in just 54 days. This heirloom tomato variety is perfect for a hanging container. Its fruits assume a round shape with a bright, red color, tastes quite well and are resilient to diseases.
Dwarf Heirloom Tomato Varieties | Compact and Full of Flavor
Dwarf Stone Tomato | If you have never tried growing a dwarf tomato, then this is a classic one to try. Very prolific, attractive red colored fruit that has been around since the turn of the century.
These dwarf heirloom tomatoes ripen to harvest in about 85 days.
Dwarf Champion Tomato | These dwarf tomatoes have been around since the late 19th century if you can imagine that. A perfect slicing tomato that stands up well with a good sweet flavor and slightly tangy bite.
You can expect to harvest this tomato variety in about 80 days.
Tiny Tim Tomato | The Tiny Tim tomato plant is super dwarf. This dwarf heirloom produces small-sized cherry tomatoes, and it’s a go-to for those with limited spaces. Sweet and tart flavors are what you should expect from this dwarf. The Tiny Tim tomato plant grows really fast, you can have your juicy tomatoes in just 50 days.
New Big Dwarf | For small garden owners, the new big dwarf will impress you with its pink tomato fruit. After transplanting, you only need to tend to it for 90 days and it will reward you with delicious juicy tomato fruits.
Bison Tomato | The Bison Heirloom tomato falls under the determinate dwarf category. Therefore, you shouldn’t be worried about planting it in a patio. It also performs extremely well in a greenhouse setting. It is red in color and easily produces compact plants. The tomatoes are round in shape and can be a little bit acidic.
An Heirloom Tomato for Everyone | Why not Save Seeds?
When it comes to planting tomatoes, you should go for the variety that can at least meet your expectations. Try new ones to compare the taste flavor and make notes of each one.
Among the listed heirloom tomatoes in this article, you can easily find one that meets your needs. The best part is you can save these seeds and plant them again next year.
Check out this post here if you want 3 simple ways to save tomato seeds.