Guide to 7 Heirloom Tomatoes

Bailey Samp, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food

Have you found yourself wandering the farmers market totally confused about the differences among heirloom tomato varieties?

If yes, then this guide is for you.  Unlike traditional red tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes are rainbow colored, can be green in color when ripe, and come in all shapes and sizes. The yellow varieties tend to have less acid, the reds are zesty, and the dark purple varieties can offer a savory flavor. 

Here is a look at a few different heirloom tomatoes that you can pick up at your local farmers market this season!

Pink Wonder 

These pink beauties have a long shelf life and outstanding flavor. They have a sweet and fruity flavor and can be a popular choice for salads or canning.

Marbonne 

A hybrid version of the popular french heirloom. The beautiful, deep red, ribbed tomato offers bold and complex flavors. 

Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye

Beautiful, rich, and sweet in flavor. A popular choice among heirlooms! They have an engaging taste that isn’t what you’d expect and are the perfect slicer tomato. 

Cherokee Purple

This heirloom tomato ranks high amongst the rest for a good reason. It’s rich purple color and sweet flavor make for the perfect sandwich or salad. 

Margold 

These yellow tomatoes with beautiful red streaks taste as good as they look. They have a soft flesh, sweet flavor, and tend to be less acidic than the traditional tomato. 

Kakao 

A new black and brown chocolate variety that offers excellent taste. They are rich in flavor and offer a hint of sea salt.

Green Zebra 

The deep lime green beauties are often mistakes for an unripe tomato. They are rich in taste, sweet and tangy at the same time, and offer a tart after bite! But, eat them fast because they don’t have a long shelf life. 

What’s the best way to store tomatoes?

Cherry tomatoes should be kept at room temperature for the best flavor and to avoid a mealy texture. Keep them in a bowl on the counter for easy snacking.

Unripe tomatoes can be kept stem side down, in a paper bag or cardboard box in a single layer. Place in a cool area until they ripen.

Ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature on the counter away from the sunlight. Keep in a single layer with stem side up and eat within a couple days.

Overripe tomatoes that are soft to touch are best kept in the fridge. The cold air will keep the tomatoes from ripening more, and they should last for another three days. Before eating refrigerated tomatoes, take them out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. This will allow the fruit to develop some of the flavor it has lost due to refrigeration.

Bailey Samp is the Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan and co-owns Lakeview Hill Farm in Leelanau County with her partner John. She grows 26 varieties of heirloom tomatoes on the farm, and can be reached at bailey@localdifference.org to help source your favorite tomato this season!

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