Tomato Varieties


vigorous bush=semi determinate
fast ripening=any tomato that starts producing it's crop of ripe fruit within about 4 months of first sowing the seed.
main season= any tomato that starts producing ripe fruit anywhere from about 4½ months of first sowing the seed to about 5 months from seed sowing.
Late variety=a tomato that doesn't start ripening fruit until more than 5 months from seed sowing
If you are buying in plants, take about 6 weeks off these times.
Open pollinated=usually, but not always, older varieties that 'come true from seed'. That is, if you keep seed from a tomato and resow it, you will always get the exact tomato that the seed came from. You can create a new variety yourself if you have time and patience.
Heirloom=A old variety which has been maintained either because it has appealing attributes like extra large size, unusual coloring, special connoisseur qualities, or because of family sentimental reasons. Because heirloom tomatoes haven't been 'worked on' by plant breeders, they don't usually have much disease resistance. Many diseases can be essentially prevented or delayed by mulching the soil surface to prevent disease spores in the soil splashing up and infecting the young plants. Mulching plus fungicidal sprays (if you can be bothered) mean that heirlooms can usually be grown successfully in all but the very hot humid areas notorious for tomato disease
Hybrid= this is a variety created by deliberately and painstakingly taking pollen from an existing open pollinated tomato and putting it onto a different open pollinated tomato. The seed gives a first generation (F1) that are extremely uniform. But keeping seed and resowing it gives a highly varied and non-uniform lot of plants and fruit. The original cross to create the F1 seed has to be done every year. The advantage of hybrids is vigor, and the ability to use a parent known to be disease resistant.

PLUM TOMATOES-cooking, fresh eating
Plum tomatoes often have fine thick flesh and reduced amounts of pulp. This makes them good for holding shape when canned, and it means they also slice quite well. Because they have less pulp they cook down for sauces faster than some. A good tasting cultivar may be the only tomato you need. It has to be said tho', buying canned plum tomatoes from the supermarket is often cheaper and definitely easier than growing and canning your own.

Amish Paste Staking variety. 'plum' type multi purpose tomato. Because it has few seeds and thick fruit walls it is particularly useful for making sauces or any dish where canned tomatoes are called for. It produces well. A variety maintained for many years soley by the Amish religous sect of USA. Main season.
Costoluto Genovese Staking variety. Riged, fluted, and lobed, these uneven medium sized tomatoes are vigorous, bear well, but because of their shape are difficult to can/preserve. Like most plum tomatoes, they are otherwise suitable for sauce or fresh eating, altho' they are too small and uneven to be properly considered a slicer

BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES-the primo slicer for sandwiches, cooking
Beefsteaks are the very biggest tomatoes. Their pulp cavity is generally relatively small, and always compressed and distorted by the extensive placenta wall, giving the 'marbled' appearance of a steak. Because of the compressed pulp cavity and networking of the fruit wall as placenta, beefsteaks hold together well when sliced, and together with their large size, make them the ideal 'slicer' for sandwiches. Because of their high fruit wall to pulp ratio, they also cook down well for sauces. There is a lot of variation between varieties in the density of the flesh, it's juiciness (i.e. firm or very soft when ripe), and in the size and softness of the central 'core'. Flavor, as always, can vary, according to the ratio of sugars to acids, and according to the relative amount of sugar or acid present.

Big Beef F1 Staking variety. Outstandingly productive, easily outproducing most other large, (about 100mm/4 inches in diameter/ 280 gms ) very regular fruit shape, with no cracking, produce large tomatoes even toward the end of the season, very good flavour. One of the very best of the large main season varieties.
Big Rainbow Staking variety. A spectacular looking tomato grown from at least the 1900's in the USA. Basically a large to very large yellow beefsteak, as the fruits ripen, go through a phase where they resemble a rainbow - 'greenback'  on the shoulders, yellow in the middle, and with red blushed pink on the blossom end. The early set fruit can be very large at 900grams/2 lbs or more. The flesh is marbled red and orange.It is relatively free of fruit defects, and bears well. Highly rated in taste tests. Main season.
Brandywine Staking variety. A large beefsteak. Not as tall a some staking plants, this old cultivar (pre 1885, from the Amish community in USA) is renowned for its flavor. The fruit are large, between 400 and 700 grams. They are subject to minor cracking on the top, and are a rather soft fruit, but the flavor is outstanding, with both high sweetness and acidity, making for full flavor. The flavor can be poor in unfavorable seasons. Moderately productive. Main season. It has no disease resistance, and is unsuited to very humid hot areas where disease is a problem.
Evergreen Staking variety. Ripens green toning yellow. Medium sized fruit. The solid dense fruits are well suited to salsas, as well as slicing for frying or sandwiches. Main season.
Golianth F1 A large, smooth, deep red skinned commercial variety of around 300gms/10oz or more. Widely adapted and disease resistant. Early mid season.
Giant Belgium Large to very large, dark pink fruit of around 500 grams/ 1 lb. and and sometimes much more. The flesh is dense and meaty.
Great White Staking variety. A particularly vigorous beefsteak, bearing large fruit of around 400 gms. The fruit are yellowish white. Main season.
Grosse Lisse Staking variety. Vigorous, adapted to humid areas. Large, (plus 200 grams) heavy yeilding cultivar. Moderate sweetness, low to moderate acidity.Main season.
Marvel Striped Staking variety. Grown in Oaxaca, Mexico, at least since the mid-1800's. The large, heart-shaped fruit are yellow streaked with bright orange.Yellow flesh, streaked pink.The skin is thin. Juicy. The flavor is sweet Vigorous.
Mortgage Lifter Staking variety. Extremely large, furrowed, red beefsteak (up to 1 kilo). In good conditions it can be exceptionally productive. Main season
Pineapple Staking variety.The fruit are yellow-red striped, and the plants have heacy foliage. which helps prevent sunscald.
Ponderosa Pink Staking variety. Large fruit, 200 grams and better. Very ripe fruit are sweet with low acidity. Slightly underripe fruit are sweet and with better acid. This variety is outstanding for flavor. Main season.
St. Pierre A French heirloom variety actively sought out in the street markets for it's superior flavor.
Yellow Brandywine- a deep yellow, near orange color 'sport' of 'Brandywine'

SALAD TOMATOES-for summer salads.
Seed locule (pulp) tends to fall out if they are sliced. Abundant seed pulp makes them a slow reducer if they are being used for sauces. But their smaller size makes them ideal for cutting in half or in quarters to have with a salad.
Arkansas traveler This pink fruited heirloom variety from the Ozark Mountains is medium sized, widely adapted and has good flavor.
Burpees Longkeeper Staking variety. A medium to large orangey-red tomato (about 150gms) whose special feature is that if the plant is put in later than the main crop, the Autumn ripening tomatoes will keep for up to three months if care is taken to store only undamaged fruit. Main season, but intended to be delayed planted to ripen late.
Cherokee Purple-A rather short staking variety said to have been grown by the Cherokee tribe of USA at least since the late 1800's. This is a large (250 grams/9oz or more) dirty pinky-purple colored fruit with brownish shoulders.The flesh is soft, brick colored with green gel. It is one of the sweetest (if not the sweetest) large tomatoes available. It has little acid. Mid season.
Djena Lee's Golden Girl developed in Minnesota in the 20's by one Djena Lee, this deep yellow tomato has a reputation for quite exception sugar acid balance and intensity of flavor.
Dr.Walter Staking variety. Productive. Low acid. Main season.
Early girl Staking variety. Starts maturing fruit early and carries on producing to relatively late in the season. Moderate sweetness, medium to high acidity. A good all season tomato for those who prefer the acid notes in tomatoes.
Fourth of July Staking variety. Early season.It has particularly good flavor for an early tomato, and altho the first picked tend to be a bit flavorless,  the flavor improves as the season warms up. A good choice for cool season and short season areas. The fruit are small, at about 30-40mm/a bit over an inch to about an inch and half .
Gold Dust-an orange skinned version of 'Taxi' (which see).
Green Zebra Developed in the mid 80's by heirloom tomato breeder, Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seeds. Uniform, small (50mm/2 inch) olivey yellow fruit overlaid with dark green stripes. The flesh is green with good sugar acid balance.Productive.
Guernsey Island Staking variety. Medium to small fruit, red streaked with dull bronzy green. Medium acid, low sugar, clean flavor. Guernsey Island has unusual purple red flesh, and is juicy. Main season.
Heatmaster (syn. 'Sunwave')  adapted to hot subtropical conditions. This deep red mid season tomato has disease resistance and is medium sized (200gms/7 oz).
India F1 A round red medium to small tomato (around 100 grams) that is prolific. Main season.
Jimma F1 Staking variety. A medium sized tomato bred to last for up to a month without rotting once picked. Early season.
Moneymaker Staking variety. Attractive, round, medium sized (about 115 grams) fruit on a vigorous plant better adapted to humid conditions than some. Flavor is good, medium sweetness:low acid when well ripened, and the reverse when just ripe. Main season.
Mr.Stripey-see 'Tigerella'
Nebraska Wedding Staking variety. Medium sized orange skin and flesh. Late ripening.
Potentate Staking variety. Attractive looking crimson red, round, medium/small (about 75gms) firm tomatoes with moderate acidity and low sugar.
Stupice Semi determinate. A  small to medium red salad tomato that has high acid and medium sugar when just ripe, but has mediocre flavor when very ripe. The plants produce early to very early, setting well when others don't, and are productive and reliable. They dry quite well. The only defects are a little greenback, and the calyx tends to tear out when they are picked (hard to pick).
Taxi Determinate variety. Lemon yellow turning deep yellow with maturity, a round to slightly flattened , medium sized (about 100 gms) dense, firm fleshed tomato that holds together well when sliced, with a slightly savory, medium acid low sugar taste. Good. Unusually, it has a relatively tender skin. Taxi is quite widely adapted, and performs well even in humid hot areas.
Tigrella Staking variety. Tigerella (syn 'Mr.Stripey') is a small fruit with red and orange stripes. It is quite productive, early mid season, with unremarkable mainstream low acid low to moderate sugar taste. The gel is juicy and quite loose in the fruit. The skin is quite tough. Tigerella is attractive, and free of any 'greenback' as it ripens.
Yellow Perfection Staking variety, vigorous potato leaf. This is an old English variety with deep golden-yellow skin and
golden-yellow flesh.It is said to be  thin skinned, with good  flavor and is juicy small  It is a rather small fruit, at about 30grams/1 oz.
Zorba-Introduced by Santa Barbara Heirloom Seedling Nursery in the late '90's, this Cretian variety is said to have outstanding flavor.

CHERRY TOMATOES tiny tomatoes for putting whole in salads, or snacking
These tomatoes vary from pea sized up to where they tip over into small 'salad' type. They are usually very prolific, and some have been bred for high sugars as a snacking 'fruit'. They are very colorful as a whole tomato in a salad, and their size makes them ideally suited to this purpose.

Cherry Dots-Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium -see 'currant red'
Currant red Staking. This is Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium, one of the wild progenitors of the domestic tomato. The vigorous plants produce sprays of pea sized fruit of unremarkable but pefectly acceptable flavor. The smallest tomato available. Main season.
Currant yellow The yellow form of 'currant red'.
Gardeners delight Staking variety. This vigorous variety produces trusses of 6-12 sweet small fruit throughout the season. Early season.
Green grape Looks like a cluster of 4 to 12 large yellow/green grapes, such as the muscat grape. This cross was bred from 4 different heirloom tomatoes, plus 'Evergreen' by 'The Tater Mater Company' , and released in the mid '80's.
Gold Nugget Bush variety. Good rich color in a small (plus 2.5cm diameter) fruit.
Peacevine Vigorous bush.. Developed  by Alan Kapuler of 'Seeds of Change'. Said to have a particularly high vitamin C content. 20mm/ 3/4 inch red fruit, productive till quite late in the season.
Red Pear Essentially identical to Yellow pear, but with some flavor.
Santa F1 Oblong, meaty, very good flavor, highly productive, once picked keep better than many cherry tomatoes.
Spoon tomato-Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium-see 'currant red'
Sun Cherry F1 Staking variety.There are up to 20 small (30mm diameter) red fruit per long truss on this vigorous plant. Said to be the sweetest cherry tomato. Early season.
Sun Gold Staking variety. A golden yellow cherry tomato with particularly good flavor, almost universally prefered over other cherry tomatoes. Seems to perform well over a range of climatic conditions, including cool early season.
Sweet 100 F1 Staking variety. The plant is vigorus, and spectacularly productive, and reliable. Small (30mm diameter) fruit are borne in long herringbone trusses of around 15 fruit. The fruit are sweet, with a little acid. One of the very best in this class. Early season.
Sweet Million F1 Staking variety. Very similar to 'sun cherry', and like 'sun cherry' very sweet. Early season.
Tommy Toe Staking variety. A vigorous plant producing small (30mm diameter) bright red tomatoes that have an excellent sugar:acid balance. It also has the virtue of having a long cropping period.
Tumbler F1 Bush variety. Orangey Red fruit, small, about 15 gms. Low sugar, low acid. Productive. Promoted for pot culture.
Yellow Pear Staking. Old variety, from the early 1900's. Yellow pear shaped small fruit, about 40mm long, borne in clusters. Little flavor, but attractive. Prolific. Main season.

PASTE/DRYING TOMATOES-These have almost no seed locule, so dry or boil down to paste more quickly than all others.
Napoli Bush variety. Compact plants with some root and stem disease resistance, Napoli produces small (80 gm) bright red, pear shaped, solid fruit. It has a very concentrated set, and therefore a concentrated harvest. Main season.
Opalka Staking variety. An heirloom variety which sets fairly good crops of elongated red fruit on a short vine. Unlike most paste tomatoes it has good eating qualities. Main season.
Principe Borghese Bush variety. Small oval red fruit that often contain no seeds at all. Very productive, no flavor as a fresh fruit, very suitable for bottling or drying. Main season.
San Marzano Staking variety. A standard mainstream paste tomato. Deep red,small oval/pear, dry fruit borne in clusters on the vine, for processing. Main season

Tomato cultivars for hot areas
Tom Wyatt's tomatoes for hot climates page - Brief notes on nearly 30 open pollinated, home garden, heat resistant cultivars.

Cultivar notes
Tom Wyatts heirloom tomatoes - Brief notes (one or two lines) on nearly 300 open pollinated, home garden, cultivars; most are 'heirlooms'.
Chuck Wyatt's Heirloom Tomatoes  JJJ A good selected list of heirloom and gourmet tomatoes for sale from this tomato specialist. Brief and down-to-earth notes as well. Mail order.

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