There are way more tomatoes than you could ever imagine, and did you know that not all tomatoes are red? That’s right!
You can find orange, white, pink, and even black tomatoes! If you’re interested in exploring the different types, you’ll want to learn about the best heirloom tomato varieties.
To be honest, once you dive into heirloom tomato varieties, it can become sort-of an obsession. It’s easy to want to grow all of the varieties possible.
No one can grow too many tomatoes; it’s just not possible! Someone will take those tomatoes off of your hands, or you could preserve them for the winter. Freshly canned tomatoes are better than any canned tomatoes in the store, and that’s for sure!
So, I want to share with you some of the best heirloom tomato varieties. Trust me; I won’t lead you in the wrong direction. All of these are delicious, show-stopping, and worthy of your garden space.
How Are Heirloom Tomatoes Different?
Are you wondering how heirloom tomatoes could be any different than the other tomatoes?
Heirloom tomato varieties come from previous generations as farmers and gardeners carefully saved seeds from their best plants each year. This is true seed saving at work, which preserves their delicious flavor and increases disease resistance.
Commercial crops are different, designed primarily for durability and often created each year.
Most of these crops are hybrids, which are a combination of two cultivars cross-pollinated. As these scientists and gardeners blend and create hybrid seeds, it increases the yield, fruit shape,and disease resistance.
So, why are heirloom tomatoes the better choice?
Indeterminate vs. Determinate – What Does That Mean?
As we go through the list of the best heirloom tomato varieties, each one will tell you if its indeterminate or determinate, and you might wonder what that means.
Does it really affect you?
It does! Tomatoes grow in one of two ways: determinate and indeterminate. Understanding the difference ensures you pick the type that works best for you and your garden. Here is what you need to know.
This type of tomato plants grow in a compact bush style. You often don’t need to provide staking, and they are ideal for container gardening.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that determinate tomatoes produce their fruit over a couple of weeks, so you will spend a few weeks being overwhelmed with tomatoes. If that’s a problem, it’s a good problem!
This type of tomato plants are much larger, and they require some sort of support. These plants can reach epic heights, sometimes over eight feet tall! That’s impressive.
Compared to determinate tomatoes, indeterminate tomato plants grow their fruits all season long, producing tomatoes until the first frost or the plant dies back.
So, instead of harvesting all within a few weeks, indeterminate tomatoes will spread out the harvest.
The 18 Best Heirloom Tomato Varieties
Now, I’m not going to share these from best to worse or vice versa. The best way is to go alphabetically, which makes it easier to keep a running list of the types you want to grow in your garden.
Let’s look at all of these heirloom tomato varieties!
1. Ace 55
Here is a bush tomato plant that takes about 85 days to reach full maturity. Since it’s a determinate variety, you don’t need to worry about staking your plants, nor do you need to worry about too many diseases.
This variety has excellent disease resistance, which all gardeners can appreciate.
It is important to note that Ace 55 has low acid content, which can be a great thing, but if you decide you want to can these tomatoes, you’ll either need to add acidity or use a pressure canner.
Ace 55 tomatoes have thick walls, similar to a beefsteak tomato, with a sweet flavor. They make a delicious BLT sandwich!
2. Amish Paste
If you want a tomato that is perfect for canning, look no further than Amish Paste. These meaty red tomatoes have fewer seeds and thicker walls than most tomatoes.
That means, when you go to can them, you don’t end up with as much juice that needs to boil out before the sauce can be canned.
Amish Paste tomatoes are an indeterminate variety of tomatoes that takes about 80 days to reach full maturity. You will need a trellis or some sort of support system to grow these.
3. Arkansas Traveler
Here is another indeterminate variety of tomatoes with a pinkish-hue skin. Arkansas Traveler is known for its crack-resistant skin and incredible tolerance of heat and humidity plus its disease resistance.
These tomatoes take 80 days to reach maturity. Since they’re indeterminate, you’ll need to provide a trellis, stakes, or tomato cages to support their growth and size.
4. Aunt Ruby’s German Green
Not all green tomatoes are unripe. Aunt Ruby’s is a green heirloom tomato, so it never will turn red.
These tomatoes have a tangy, sweet flavor, and the skins are streaked with pink. So, they make quite a beautiful tomato in your garden.
It takes about 85 days to reach maturity, but when they do, expect large, one-pound fruits with neon-green flesh.
They are much tastier than many of the red tomatoes. These tomatoes have won many garden taste test awards.
5. Black Russian
If you want to grow an indeterminate tomato plant but are container gardening, Black Russian is an excellent option, especially if you learn how to prune a tomato plant.
Black Russian tomato plants have reddish-brown skin, meaty flesh, and a smoky flavor – so delicious!
These tomatoes aren’t too acidic or too sweet. Instead, they’re perfectly balanced. You can expect the plants to mature 80-85 days after maturity.
6. Bonny Best
Hands down, Bonny Best is the best heirloom tomato for canning. With its meat flesh and the perfect balance between sweetness and tartness, you can’t go wrong with this selection if you know you want to can your tomatoes.
Bonny Best is an indeterminate tomato variety that takes around 80 days to reach full maturity.
You’ll need to provide a support system for these plants, but they are known for being prolific and providing an excellent harvest.
Are you looking for a slicing tomato? Not all tomato varieties are ideal for slicing, but Brandywine is known for being a perfect slicer.
You can find pink, red, black, and yellow Brandywine tomatoes. All of them are beefsteak-type tomatoes with a creamy texture with low-acid content and a rich flavor.
Brandywine is an indeterminate tomato plan that reaches large sizes. It can take up to 100 days to reach full maturity.
Something different about this type is that the leaves have smooth edges rather than the regular, serrated leaves.
8. Cherokee Purple
One of the most popular heirloom tomatoes is the Cherokee Purple. It’s a unique bush-style plant that is an indeterminate tomato, taking about 80 to maturity.
Gardeners adore Cherokee Purple due to its disease resistance and ability to handle dry spells well. It does need caged or staked because the plant can reach some large sizes. It’s worth the effort for these sweet tomatoes.
9. Dr. Wyche
Wait until you see these tomatoes! They’re rich in taste and color with tangerine-colored skin and meaty flesh.
This tomato is a knockout and a showstopper in the garden and the kitchen, taking 80 to maturity.
These fruits are so big that they might not fit in your hand. Dr. Wyche’s tomatoes have a great balance between sweetness and acidic with minimal seeds and a silky-smooth texture.
The fruits typically reach about one-pound, and the plants create heavy yields.
10. German Johnson
Here is another good choice for canning, and German Johnson has dark pink fruit rather than the classic red color. It’s an indeterminate variety that produces one to two-pound fruits, which is quite impressive.
German Johnson tomatoes have a balance between sweet and tart, along with minimal seeds and crack-resistant skins. It’s also known for being disease resistant, taking about 90 days to reach full maturity.
11. Great White
Are you interested in growing a white tomato? If so, you’ll love Great White tomatoes, which are a high-yield, indeterminate plant. Great White tomatoes are sweet, juicy, beefsteak, slicing tomatoes with a unique tropical fruit flavor.
This plant produces large tomatoes, typically about one pound each! They have a low acid content with few seeds, taking about 85-90 days to reach full maturity.
Here is another beefsteak-style tomato that is known for is sweetness and low acid content.
Hillbilly tomatoes are unique because they have a mottled yellow and red skin, and the fruits can weigh up to two pounds.
Hillbilly is an indeterminate tomato, producing fruits throughout the entire season. It takes about 85 days for the plant to reach full maturity.
13. Mr. Stripey
This is another indeterminate plant variety that produces some of the sweetest tomatoes you might have ever tried.
They’re seriously delicious. Mr. Stripey produces beefsteak style tomatoes that have yellow skins with reddish stripes. Each fruit can weigh up to two pounds each!
Since these tomatoes are large, it’s best to provide the plant with stakes or a trellis to get the support needed. The plants take 80-90 days to reach full maturity.
It’s hard not to love this heirloom tomato variety. Pineapple tomato plants produce large, yellow-orange beefsteak tomatoes with pink streaks inside and out.
Best of all, it tastes just as good as you might think with a name like Pineapple. These tomatoes have a slightly sweet flavor, taking between 75-95 days to real maturity.
These fruits are large, up to two pounds each. The yields are impressive, but make sure you provide a support system.
Here is an heirloom tomato variety that originated in Greece. It’s an indeterminate tomato variety with a fantastic acid-sugar balance. Thessaloniki tomatoes mature in 60-80 days, so you could have a harvest sooner than average.
Thessaloniki tomatoes are known for being bountiful with impressive yields and beautiful, red, round fruits.
The fruits are crack resistant and rarely rot on the vines. You do need to provide ample support for these plants.
16. VR Moscow
Most heirloom tomato varieties are indeterminate, as you can tell by this list. However, VR Moscow is a bushy, determinate tomato plant that matures in 80-90 days.
The fruits have a balance between sweetness and tartness, leading to a delicious tomato.
VR Moscow is delicious when eaten fresh, but it also is a great canning tomato. Who doesn’t love a versatile fruit? You do need to provide a stake.
17. Yellow Pear
Do you want a yellow tomato? If so, Yellow Pear is a fantastic, indeterminate tomato that is easy to grow and takes about 80 to full maturity.
Yellow Pear is a disease-resistant plant that produces small, snack-sized tomatoes shaped like pears throughout your growing season.
These plans are bountiful, so expect a significant yield from your plants. The tomatoes can be eaten fresh or preserved, but make sure you provide a stake or trellis for support.
18. White Beauty
In the garden, White Beauty tomatoes stand out with their parchment-white skin that is smooth and beautiful.
Gardeners love this variety because of its sweet, citrusy flavor that is rich and complex. You’ll fall in love with these tomatoes.
White Beauty tomatoes take 80 days to reach maturity, and they do need staking for proper support.
Believe it or not, White Beauty tomatoes developed in the 1850s, so they’re a piece of history. We have to make sure that history is not lost, so include these tomatoes in your garden.
Picking the Best Heirloom Tomato Varieties
Tomatoes are a quintessential summer vegetable that you need to add to your garden.
If you’re tired of growing the same old, basic tomatoes, try growing one or more of the best heirloom tomato varieties in your garden.
Your tastebuds will thank you when you’re turning those tomatoes into delicious dishes all summer.
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.