In Season Now: Heirloom Tomatoes

Early July through late September marks heirloom tomato season. Each variety has a distinctly delicious flavor, with equally distinct names to match: Golden Jubilee, Tigerella, Gold Medal, Pineapple, Big Rainbow, Vintage Wine and Castaluto, just to name a few of the thousands of varieties available.

Heirloom tomatoes are history on the table, treasured traditions passed on from generation to generation. Unlike common tomato hybrids that have been adapted to meet modern expectations (such as disease resistance), traditional plant breeding of heirloom plants maintains ancient traits, characteristics, colors, size and most importantly, flavor. The unique flavor profiles of heirloom tomatoes makes shopping much more interesting as you learn which variety will have the best taste and texture for your recipe.

Mollie Stone’s carries up to 20 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes in peak season. We also bring in 6-7 varieties of heirloom cherry tomatoes including Sweet 100s, Sun Gold and Black Cherries.

Wondering which varieties to start with? Keep reading for descriptions of a few of our favorite heirlooms.

  • Cherokee Purple – This earlier variety is named after the Cherokee Indians that grew this tomato nearly 100 years ago. The Cherokee has a dark pink color with dark shoulders, and is usually full-sized at 3.5-4 inches across. It has a complex tomato flavor with a slightly sweet aftertaste, making it excellent for tomato sandwiches and salads.
  • Green Zebra – This is an early to mid-season variety, with a distinct green color, light yellow spots and dark stripes. It is a bit zesty but balanced by a sweet acidic flavor. It is a lovely way to spruce up a salad or in a recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes.
  • Brandywine – Considered “The Tomato Lover’s Tomato,” the Brandywine has a perfect tomatoey flavor. It is a sweet tomato, offset by a notable acidity that achieves perfect balance. It has a beefsteak shape, and is pink to light red in color with a slight blush of green on the shoulder. You can use this tomato for anything, be it a caprese salad or on top of thin-crust pizza.
  • Black Crimson – This variety originated in Russia on the Crimean peninsula near the Black Sea. The flavor is rich, juicy and sweet with a somewhat salty finish. The Black Crimson is brownish-purple to maroon in color and usually has green shoulders. This is one of our favorites to enjoy simply sliced with a splash of Mollie O Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.