Heirloom Tomatoes: The Taste Test

Farmers’ markets are overflowing with vibrant heirloom tomatoes, each one with its own distinct flavor, color and texture. We scooped up 7 different varieties and gave them a taste.

All About Heirloom Tomatoes

Juicy tomatoes are at their peak, and that means farmers' markets are exploding with heirloom varieties. Heirloom tomatoes are special, because cultivators have saved the seeds and passed them down through the generations. They come in a range of sizes, colors and, of course, flavors. We tested several varieties for taste and texture. Read more about in-season tomatoes.

Brandywine Tomato

Brandywine tomatoes are sweet, tender and succulent. Cut into chunks and eat with your fingers, slice and stack on sandwiches or blend into gazpacho.

Yellow Brandywine Tomato

Equally gorgeous, but more mild than the vibrant red Brandywine.

Black and Yellow Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

They have similar names, but very different flavors. The deep-purple "black" variety has more acid, which mellows as you chew. The yellow are much more mild — a great salad tomato.

Valencia Tomato

This variety is bright, with a moderate amount of acid and subtle, sweet finish.

Costoluto Genovese Tomato

These beautiful tomatoes have a flavor reminiscent of a Beefsteak tomato, only juicer and a tad sweeter.

Purple Cherokee Tomato

Elegant, fragrant and low in acid, these purple-hued tomatoes have a smooth flavor that's delicious raw or lightly sauteed.

Tigerella Tomato

Simple and mild, this variety has a delightful basic tomato flavor, despite the wild outer appearance.

Quick Heirloom Tomato Sauce

After the taste test, we tossed the leftover tomato scraps in a saucepan along with a little olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, pepper and lots of fresh basil. Simmer for 15 minutes and then puree into this rich, velvety sauce. More homemade tomato sauce ideas.