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What are heirloom tomatoes?

Hi, I’m in the UK and often use US recipes. I keep seeing the ingredient ‘heirloom tomatoes’. We have lots of varieties of tomatoes in the UK, but none called ‘heirloom’. So what size, colour, flavour are ‘heirlooms’? Just curious.


  • Heirloom tomatoes come in all sorts of sizes, colors and tastes. This might help, it has pictures too http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heirloom_tomato

    and this one explains more about heirloom vegetables. http://www.halcyon.com/tmend/define.htm

  • queera@gmail.comqueera@gmail.com Raw Newbie

    Hi debbietook, Im in Ireland… when I was in the US I had heirloom tomatoes, absolutely yummy. The closest we have here are beef tomatoes, available from some supermarkets but mostly farmers markets and italian specialist stores…good luck! (ps theyre the kind they use to make insalata caprese…)

  • They are tomato varieties which are vintage. Many are types which were grown in the 1800’s. It’s my understanding that many seeds were passed down through families in order to sustain them. Also, they are not supposed to be messed with in any “commercial” way. And they are left to pollinate naturally, and not hand pollinated or “helped”.

  • In a NUT shell they are YUMMY!!! You have not tasted a treat till you’ve tried a home grown heirloom tomato!

    My favorite here in the states are Cherokee Purple and Black Krim.

    They are seeds passed down through the ages and not commercially modified seeds for the purpose of mass production. Heirloom tomatoes are often not prefect looking, in fact some are down right ugly looking, but the taste! HEAVEN!

    There are so many varieties, coming in white, black, purple, red, striped, green you can pretty much be assured of finding what ever you like.

    The are some really great seed companies who sell them one being Seed Exchange “a group totally devoted to saying varieties of edible plants so that in the future we can still enjoy things like heirloom tomatoes or things like stars and moons watermelons” or or Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds who have some great selections as well.

  • coconuttycoconutty Raw Newbie

    I agree, you have not had a real tomato until you have had a home grown heirloom!!! Yes, the heirloom tomatoes available in the store are still worlds better than your standard tomato, but a home grown heirloom is beyond words ;-)

    I grew my first heirloom tomatoes this year and I was just blown away at how delicious they are. I got my seeds from a local company that specializes in keeping the heirlooms alive.

  • debbietookdebbietook Raw Master

    Thank you SO much, everybody – mystery solved!

  • Actually it’s my understanding that according to EU laws, “heirloom” anything is not allowed there. Heirlooms are varietals, not “roma” or “beefsteak” and something has to have been eaten in the EU for two years to be on the law books as a “foodstuff.” Unfortunate for Europeans, if true.

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