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Heirloom Tomatoes: Unique, Intense and Naturally Gorgeous

By Jennifer Cheng, August 14, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jennifer Cheng

Heirloom tomatoes are here! Our stores are bursting with all of their gorgeous hues and wildly different shapes. From teensy little cherry heirlooms to hefty, rippling beefsteaks with colors that range from the palest yellows to deep, dark indigo, they’re a vision that still-life paintings — or Instagram pics — are made of.

Read on to find out how you can win gorgeous tomato-themed kitchen goodies and a $50 Whole Foods Market® gift card to fill your basket with equally gorgeous heirlooms.  UPDATE: Thank you to everyone that entered. Congrats to our randomly chosen winner, Carol P.!

As tomato fans everywhere know, the unique beauty of these heirloom tomatoes is rivaled only by their outstanding, intense flavors that are varied as much as their appearance.

These delicate beauties are hand picked and hand packed so that they arrive in stores ripe and ready to be enjoyed.

Oh, and heirloom season is precious and short. If you’ve never tried an heirloom tomato, now’s your chance to see what everyone’s raving about!

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing recipe

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Here are some of our favorite heirloom tomatoes and how we like to eat them:

Cherokee Purple

  • Very large, beefsteak variety, purple or very dark red
  • Deeply flavored and rich with a firm, dense texture
  • Slice thickly and serve with brined cheeses such as feta or with a sweet drizzle of honey

Marvel Stripe

  • Large, beefsteak variety, yellow with interior blush
  • Mild, sweet and fruity with low acidity; juicy and soft
  • Wonderful for gazpacho, paired with balsamic vinegar as a tomato relish or with earthy clothbound cheddar cheese


  • Large, beefsteak variety, pink or yellow
  • Sweet, low-acidity, heavy “slicing” tomatoes with excellent texture
  • Perfect for sandwiches, used as the base of a fresh summer salad or paired with the creamy saltiness of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


  • Medium to large, beefsteak variety, green
  • Mild and sweet, fruit stays green when ripe
  • Try making tomato preserves, a sandwich with triple crème Brie and baguette or breading and frying slices for fried green tomatoes

Black Prince

  • Medium-sized, round globe variety, purple or very dark red
  • Deep and sweetly flavored, firm texture
  • Sprinkle wedges with vinaigrette and fresh herbs for a simple treat; pair with Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue to match the tomato’s sweetness with a wonderful blue cheese

Sun Gold

  • Small, cherry variety, dark yellow or almost orange
  • Tangy-sweet, a fruity pop of flavor
  • Perfect for an anytime snack, tossing into quick salads, baking on pizzas and flatbreads and pairing with Parrano cheese

Black Cherry

  • Small, cherry variety, purple or dark red
  • Very sweet, highly flavored
  • Great in salads, roasting whole, baking into focaccia and pairing with Monterey Jack for a cream-of-tomato soup flavor combination

If you’re in love with heirlooms, leave a comment below by Wednesday, August 28th and tell me why you think they're such special tomatoes. We’ll pick one winner at random to receive a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card so you can fill your basket with these beauties. You'll need some lovely kitchen tools to go with all those heirlooms. The winner will also get a beautiful handmade salvaged wood cutting board from Gray Works Design on Etsy, Julia Rothman’s tomato art dish towels from Anthropologie, a wood-handled tomato knife from Williams-Sonoma, letter-pressed tomato greeting cards from Pioneer House on Etsy, and The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook. That’s a prize worth about $250!   

The time is ripe! Heirlooms are at their prime time for devouring right now, so start enjoying heirlooms every chance you get before the short peak season ends.

Tell me, why do you love heirloom tomatoes?


Category: Produce




Giselle Laborde Sanchez says ...
Heirloom tomatoes remind me of days when I was a little girl . We would go to the country to buy small farm grown produce. Always smelled and tasted so good.
08/14/2013 6:41:07 AM CDT
j.J. says ...
I love heirlooms because they are bred for taste, not looks. Plus, they do better in my garden. BTW, I love that tomato logo you have. Will it be a reusable bag in stores?
08/14/2013 7:43:18 AM CDT
Patty Magyar says ...
Oh my...why do I love heirloom tomatoes? It's a family thang! They remind me so much of my grandmother and my dad...he had row after row after row of the most beautifully staked heirlooms...he would meticulously save the seeds...and our first incredible bite of a garden heirloom on toast...the best bite ever! I seriously could and would eat them all summer long...
08/14/2013 8:54:27 AM CDT
Kerry says ...
I love Heirlooms because they instantly make any dish flavorful and beautiful!
08/14/2013 9:39:45 AM CDT
Rebecca says ...
I love the intense flavor of heirloom tomatoes. My favorites are the sun gold cherry tomatoes -- great in salads or just for a snack!
08/14/2013 10:37:53 AM CDT
Ben says ...
We love heirloom tomatoes! They taste amazing and one feels as though they are fighting off homogenization of the tomato species by supporting the heirloom tomato farmers.
08/14/2013 11:19:46 AM CDT
Lori Curran says ...
Heirloom's outstanding flavors cannot be beat . . . I tend to hoard these beauties when they're available because before you know it they'll be gone . . . one caveat, however, for maximum flavor -- never refrigerate! Cherokee purple is my favorite . . . amazing!
08/14/2013 11:43:31 AM CDT
Phoebe Allen says ...
We love heirloom tomatoes because they taste like real TOMATOES!
08/14/2013 11:45:22 AM CDT
Arlene Levine says ...
I love heirloom tomatoes because they have such marvelous flavor that the seem to be pre salted.
08/14/2013 11:48:47 AM CDT
Kristen says ...
I love heirloom tomatoes because of their appearance and their flavor. The sun golds growing in my garden provide a pop-in-my-mouth treat when I go out to work in the yard.
08/14/2013 11:52:40 AM CDT
Jean D. says ...
You say tomato, I say to-mah-to, I say I have heirloom tomatoes, you say party at MY house.
08/14/2013 12:00:20 PM CDT
Sean says ...
I enjoy heirloom tomatoes in a salad with avocados.
08/14/2013 12:04:55 PM CDT
Chris Pabst says ...
I didn't like tomatoes until I had a real heirloom tomato. I cannot get enough of them.... It's a lycopene addiction, I think.
08/14/2013 12:10:51 PM CDT
Sheri Waters says ...
The best of the BEST! hEIRLOOms!!
08/14/2013 12:11:48 PM CDT
TomR says ...
Oh my...the memories of eating heirloom tomatoes are like opening flood gates to me... Delicious salads, eating them by themselves, slathering mayo on them in sandwiches while standing over the sink eating them because they are sooooo damn juicy! Luv em!
08/14/2013 12:12:29 PM CDT
a8ala says ...
I grow them in my garden. Of course the critters know what is good too and always seem to attack the black ananas since they are the sweetest of the bunch! The juice that comes out of these is incredible.
08/14/2013 12:14:05 PM CDT
Aparna says ...
Nice article! Love heirlooms cos they look beautiful, are a quick snack and even serve as my afternoon "candy" replacement!
08/14/2013 12:15:35 PM CDT
Anna says ...
Summer distilled is the best, fresh produce and food, and heirloom tomatoes are the quintessential summer food.
08/14/2013 12:28:39 PM CDT
Amrita says ...
Heirloom tomatoes are delicious and full of flavor! They make me think of summer!
08/14/2013 12:34:29 PM CDT
Farmer Donald says ...
It is so great to see everyone getting excited about eating heirloom tomatoes. The varieties listed above are delicious. It is amazing to think that there are well over 500 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the world; grown in all colors of the rainbow, in all different shapes and sizes. Let's eat!
08/14/2013 12:36:49 PM CDT
Barbara Baldwin says ...
I love to make heirloom tomato chutney. I love a variation of a BLT, sliced evergreen tomatoes with arugula and broiled planchette on sour dough toast.
08/14/2013 12:49:41 PM CDT
Edie Hering says ...
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE heirlooms!!! The flavors and smells are remarkable!! My "this season's favorite" heirloom tomato is the Georgia Peach! I discovered that the tomatoes that fell to the ground after last year's plants were hit with frost produced tiny little plants this year. I had about 15 tiny tomato plants that I replanted and grew MORE delicious tomatoes!
08/14/2013 12:50:32 PM CDT
Julia says ...
I ADORE heirloom tomatoes! My favorite is Cherokee Purple, but any variety will do. When there is a bunch, I love to make salsa with different colors. They are how tomatoes SHOULD taste. <3
08/14/2013 12:51:41 PM CDT
KELLI M says ...
I grew up with the food from my grandparents' bountiful square-acre "city farm" full of good things like heirloom tomatoes! Back then we just called it "food." :) I sure miss it!
08/14/2013 12:51:49 PM CDT
Amarie says ...
I love heirloom tomatoes because they taste so good!
08/14/2013 12:53:45 PM CDT