Misshapen and sporting wild, vibrant colors are the hallmark of heirloom tomatoes—but are they really tastier? Some are much lower in acid, others have different flavors, but in general, do they really beat the flavor of a good ole beefsteak? The answer may surprise you. It’s all about which variety you choose.
Love heirloom tomatoes? Try these gorgeous recipes.
What is an heirloom tomato?
For starters, let’s clarify what an heirloom tomato is. The definition is pretty straightforward: a variety of tomato that has been passed down between gardeners, true from seed, making them easy to share. Spoiler alert! There’s no one flavor or shape even within each variety because of the way they have been grown and shared.
Different varieties = different flavors
There are hundreds of heirloom tomato varieties out there, but there are a few that are more common. Here’s a guide to the top options:
- Brandywine: Possibly the most popular heirloom variety, the Brandywine has an intense tomato flavor and is comparable in size to a beefsteak.
- Galinas: These sweet golden-yellow tomatoes are similar in size to a cherry and grow in clusters. Looking for something deep yet sharp? These are for you, try them on a buttery and crusty galette.
- Gold Rush Currant: These adorable tiny tomatoes are a sweet and delicious snack, you’ll want to eat them by the handful!
- Black Cherry: These dark little tomatoes look like you guessed it, black cherries. Perfectly round, they have a dark and dynamic flavor for snacking and look great on a shish-kabob.
- Lucky Cross: Juicy, and almost fruity in flavors, these multi-ribbed tomatoes are the perfect swirl of red and yellow. Brighten up a classic fish taco with this colorful variety.
- Beam’s Yellow Pear: Bright yellow, flavorful, and obviously pear-shaped, these are tender and juicy.
- Golden Jubilee: Low in acid, mild in flavor, yet thick and meaty in size, the golden jubilee slices up easily thanks to a thick-walled interior.
- Goldie: Similar in size to your classic beefsteak, these are often bi-lobed, but in a bright orange hue. Pick them up for a rich and velvety flavor.
- Costoluto Genovese: These deeply ribbed and flat tomatoes are intensely flavorful and deep red, perfect for sauces or preserving, or blend them up into a classic soup.
- Green Zebra: These bright green tomatoes really pop, and have a sweet yet slightly sharp flavor. No surprise that they get their name from the distinctive outer stripes.
Heirlooms are typically grown by smaller farmers or at home instead of large producers since they take more specialized attention and are passed down from the seed. However you decide to use them, whether it’s in a sauce, on a pizza, or tossed into a salad, they’re all perfectly delicious!