Do Heirloom Tomatoes Really Taste Best?
I may have to surrender my subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine for saying this, but the two hybrid tomato varieties I’ve been growing this summer have tasted better than any of the heirlooms I have grown in past years – with one exception.
In the past I have grown only heirlooms – Black Krim, Green Zebra, German Johnson, Caspian Pink, Black Prince, Brandywine, etc. The results were uneven.
This year I planted just three tomatoes, each a different variety: the hybrids ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Early Girl’, and the heirloom ‘Black Cherry’.
‘Celebrity’ and ‘Early Girl’ appealed to me because they are supposed to be more compact. Frankly, I am tired of trying to keep my trellises from toppling over under the weight of tomato vines. And I have to say that these two hybrids have lived up to their promise in this regard.
What’s more, the fruits have been just delicious. Dense and meaty, but with a taste that is bright and sweet. They aren’t overly large, about 6 ounces or so.
That size is perfect for our purposes. Judy’s favorite thing is to make BLTs, and I love open-faced toasted tomato and cheese sandwiches sprinkled with oregano.
I suspect that soil, weather, and cultural practices are at least as important as the variety in determining what makes for a really tasty tomato. And I would bet that what gives you the greatest yield (and the largest, most beautiful fruits) is not necessarily what gives you the greatest taste.
For example, I haven’t been watering my tomatoes this summer, even when things were getting pretty dry. Does that account for the pleasingly dense texture of this year’s fruit? There’s no way to say for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
However, when it comes to cherry tomatoes, I am a ‘Black Cherry’ fanatic. This heirloom is without doubt the most delicious cherry tomato I have ever eaten, anywhere. It is intensely flavorful, sweet and tangy. So I always plant one ‘Black Cherry’, despite the tendency of the vines to grow to infinity and beyond.
Are you a believer in hybrid or heirloom tomatoes – or are you agnostic on this issue?