This year our farm planted roughly 10 varieties of tomatoes in our 5 ½ acre garden. Before I give you some background on each one, I wanted to talk about some of the benefits of tomatoes. They are packed full of antioxidants, which are linked to many health benefits. Some of those benefits include; improving vision, improving digestive health, and reducing high blood pressure. Tomatoes are one of my top 5 favorite summer garden items, so knowing that they also have some health benefits is a win-win in my book.
Let’s talk about how to prepare your tomatoes. One of my favorite things I make with my first garden tomato of the year, is a tomato sandwich. I know… it’s so plain and simple, but man it is so good. I prefer white bread, not toasted, with Dukes mayo and salt and pepper. While you can use another brand of mayo, Duke’s is really the best. This makes a great dinner after a busy day of summer farming. I also like to just eat tomatoes plain, with salt and pepper. I also like to use them in salads, soups, stir fry, and casseroles. Check out our Pinterest page for some more delectable tomato recipe ideas.
Time for our variety breakdown…Let’s start with the standard red tomato we grow – Sunbrite. Sunbrite tomatoes are good for almost everything: eating fresh, or canning. If you’re looking for just a regular red tomato, this is your go-to.
We also grow Mariana, which is a large Roma type sauce tomato. They are best for canning, sauce, salsa, or juice, because there is a lot of meat to them.
Cherokee Purple tomatoes a round to beefsteak sized tomato, but tend to be green, purple, and brown in color. They are great for eating fresh, putting on salads, or adding to your homemade pizzas. They have nice acidity with a sweet touch. The story behind this variety is that they were originally from the Cherokee Indians and the seed had been passed down for decades until the 1990’s when the grower in Sevierville, TN sent them in for commercial production.
Mortgage Lifter is a mid-sized beefsteak pink tomato. This is my personal favorite. So sweet that they add a special touch to recipes if you use them primarily or you can mix them with others to make a colorful mix. These are great for BLT sandwiches, or in a salad.
Lemon Boy is a small round yellow tomato. Yellow tomatoes are known for low acidity, making them sweet and mild. I personally use them on sandwiches, or in pasta dishes. You can layer them with red tomatoes for a beautiful caprese salad.
Orange Banana Tomatoes are a paste type, very similar to the Roma tomato in shape. They work best for drying, canning, or sauce. They are a very meaty tomato with a fruity flavor.
Red Zebras are a super flavorful striped plum tomato. They are almost always perfectly round. I usually eat them fresh, but they are also good for roasting, making sauces, and canning. I find they have a little zing to them.
Opalka paste tomatoes are my favorite tomato we grow. They have a lot less seeds then even the Roma tomatoes do. I like to use them in sauce, but I also slice them thin and put them on pizza. They are fantastic for fresh tomato soup as well. You can chunk them and add to vegetable soup or chili and it really enhances the flavor of those dishes.
Old German tomatoes are an heirloom beefsteak tomato with a yellow and red striped hue. They are great for eating fresh, or putting in salads. They are known for less seeds and fantastic flavor.
Hungarian Heart is a new pink tomato variety for us this year, but it has not disappointed us. It’s a great versatile tomato, that’s good for eating, roasting, sauces, or canning. It’s pink in color like the Mortgage Lifters, but is shaped like a heart.
Next time you’re at the market, I hope you find this guide helpful when choosing some tomatoes to try. Our gardens have just started producing for the year, so there should be no shortage anytime soon. Enjoy!