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Best Tomato Recipes and Heirloom Seeds

Updated on March 18, 2013
Sliced tomatoes and corn make a goiod summertime meal.
Sliced tomatoes and corn make a goiod summertime meal. | Source

Great Lakes Tomato Growing Project

What tomato varieties are best for slicing? -- Asked by Jerilee Wei.

I don't know about all the tomatoes of the world, or even the USA, but I can start with an Ohio project done in 2009 that looked at heirloom tomatoes, best uses and yields, and other data. I chose the heirloom study, since heirlooms are my favorite varieties of tomatoes for tastiness.

The Heirloom Tomato Project of 2009 was conducted to examine tomato varieties, yields, and uses all around the Great Lakes of the Midwest on the American side of the lakes. The results that surprised me were those that indicated that heirloom tomatoes did not always taste better than hybrid varieties found in our grocery stores. Many home gardeners prefer to raise all heirloom tomatoes, so this news was surprising to me.


We know that hybrid plants and animals usually have some greater strengths than pure breed stock (heirloom in this case of tomatoes), but I was surprised again when I learned that one of the heirloom tomatoes studied, the Rutger's, is itself a hybrid of two other.

America is seeing a scarcity of heirloom seeds and difficulties of saving them season to season in light of a growing use of Monsanto one-season-only seeds. At the same time, dozens of heirloom seed sellers are listed across the Internet.

The heirloom tomato study was done under the auspices of The Ohio State University and Extension Service in Wooster OH in nine different locations around the Great Lakes (see amps below). Each location was grown with all 10 varieties of tomatoes included in the study.

Historic heirloom tomato ad, when the Brandywine was new (see information below).
Historic heirloom tomato ad, when the Brandywine was new (see information below). | Source


Cherokee Purple

Jackie Alpers very first try at growing the Cherokee Purple. 2008. Tuscon AZ.
Jackie Alpers very first try at growing the Cherokee Purple. 2008. Tuscon AZ. | Source

Heirloom Tomatoes Studied

  1. Amish Paste -This tomato grows up to half a pound generally and offers substantial flavor in a meaty, juicy fruit not bothered by many seeds. Delicious for saucing.
  2. Brandywine - The Brandywine of the 1800s has a pink flesh and good flavor, with a fruit up to 14 ounces or more in weight. Our Ohio Extension Service tells us that this variety was passed down the generations of the Sudduth family to an Ohio tomato fan called Ben Quisenberry. Ohioans used to believe that tomatoes are poisonous, but growers like these helped stop that rumor (we have a tomato festival in the suburb of Reynoldsburg every year). Ben saved seeds every year and traded them with other families, so we have a lot of Brandywines today.
  3. Burbank - This is an original slicing tomato developed by the famous Luther Burbank circa 1915. The fruits are bright re, up to 4 inches in diameter, and yield a strong tomato flavor.
  4. Cherokee Purple - This is one of my favorites, because my utmost favorites are Beefsteak Tomatoes and the Purple Cherokee is that style. It is said to be among the first of the so-called "black" (dark) tomatoes. The variety in over a century old as of 1990 and first grown by the Cherokee Nation.

Major Study Sites - Central

Columbus OH:
Columbus, OH, USA

get directions

South Charleston OH:
South Charleston, OH 45368, USA

get directions

Piketon OH:
Piketon, OH, USA

get directions

Macomb County MI:
Macomb, MI, USA

get directions

5. Juane Flamme - This is one I have never tasted, but found a description on It was developed in France and sold commercially in 1997. They are reportedly apricot colored and weight in at 4 ounces. Their flavor is described as sweet and fruity and good for drying/roasting.

6. Opalka - These tomatoes may have been developed in Poland at the end of the 19th Century, or so the legend goes. They are a medium red fruit 3 inches in diameter and up to 6 inches long, good for making tomato paste, ketchup, and sauce. Also good for slicing.

7. Oxheart (Livingston’s) - These tomatoes, being a Beefsteak Style, are another of my favorites for slicing. A single slice of a beefsteak tomato will cover a whole sandwich, or use two slices for a tomato sandwich. In the old days on the farm in The Great Depression, people added a slice of lard on top of the tomato for flavor, but today we can use some butter or margarine or a little mayonnaise. I also like a slice of tomato and a thin slice of Swiss cheese for a sandwich. This tomato is produces rather large, heart-shaped fruits that are pink and give an old fashioned garden flavor.

8. Peron - OSU found that the Peron Tomato needs no spraying for disease control, supporting seed sellers' claims that it is the world's only sprayless tomato. Tomato fruits are about 8 ounces in weight and red in color. Home gardeners report on Internet bulletin boards that the fruits are very juicy and afford a strong tomato taste, like "real" tomatoes. Good for slicing.

Peron-type tomato.
Peron-type tomato. | Source

Major Study Sites - Eastern

Barker NY:
Barker, NY 14012, USA

get directions

Baker, New York gave the researches an idea about growing yields and tastes in Ontario as well, as did Waseca, Minnesota.

Rock Springs PA:
Rock Springs Cemetery, Mahaffey, PA 15757, USA

get directions

9. Rutgers - This is a university bred tomato, pollinated by bees. It is red, producing up to 8oz. fruits, and is good for canning. It was bred by the Rutger's University/Campbell's Soup partnership by crossing two other heirlooms: Marglobe and JTP. I figure it must make good tomato sauce and soup.

10. Tainan - These are high-yield grape tomatoes, medium to dark red in color. They are good for salads and even on kabobs. The Tainan yielded the largest harvest of tomatoes of all the 10 varieties of heirloom studied and much more overall than any of the other 9.

Major Study Sites - West

West Lafayette, IN:
West Lafayette, IN, USA

get directions

Dixon Springs, IL:
Dixon Springs State Park, Shawnee National Forest, Grantsburg, IL 62943, USA

get directions

Waseca MN:
Waseca, MN 56093, USA

get directions

Three-Cheese Heirloom Tomato Pie

Serves 6 to 8


  • One Pie Crust for an 8 inch pie plate (no top crust)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced (use more if you like)
  • 2 TBSP shredded basil leaves (fresh)
  • 4 Red Beefsteak heirloom tomatoes, halved and sliced
  • 2 Cups Tainan or other cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 Cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/4 Cup crumbled goat cheese (place all three cheese into a small bowl)


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Carefully place the pie crust into the 8 inch pie plate.
  • Use a fork to gently poke the crust several places and bake the crust alone for 10 minutes or until light brown (check often for brownness). Remove the baked crust and set on a cooling rack or the stove top and leave the oven at its present temperature.
  • Place the cut up tomatoes into a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, place the sea salt, pepper, garlic, and basil and mix well. Sprinkle the seasonings over the tomatoes; allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  • Place a layer of tomatoes into the pie crust, sprinkle some bread crumbs and cheeses over tomatoes, and continue layering until pie plate is filled. End with bread crumbs and cheese.
  • Place pie in oven and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes; check frequently since this is a high temperature. Remove from oven and serve.



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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Get reaady for spring by planning your garden for growing Heirloom Tomato Seeds. They are best!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      9 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I have printed your recipe and look forward to trying it out. Thank you!

      I love tomatoes and multiple cheeses and yet I am making sweet pies which are not good for us.

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 

      9 years ago from England

      I love tomatoes in all varieties but there were several here that I've not seen in the uk. Your hub certainly makes good use of hubpages maps which I rather like. voted up awesome! :)

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Patty,I have enjoyed reading all this awesome information about tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes i have only heard of the Brandywine and beefsteak ones.I do love just picked out of the garden tomatoes so i will give the recipe Three Cheese Heirloom Tomato Pie a try.

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      9 years ago from Jamaica

      That tomato pie must be mouthwatering. I love eating tomato, crackers and cheese so I know the tomatoes go well with cheese. The man of the house hates tomatoes...he just weird...I love them. My favourites are the heirloom and cherry tomatoes so that pie is right up my street.

      There are so many varieties of tomatoes and I have had a few of the ones on your list but I must say some don't have a great flavour at all. Not only are tomatoes delicious but packed with vitamins C and A (among other essential nutrients). They are immune boosting cancer fighting foods.

      Great hub Patty!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love tomatoes and have grown beefstake tomatoes in Ohio and in other states as well. I didn't know about the project in 2009, which is very interesting. I was not familiar with all the varieties you listed, so this was a very informative hub for me. Rated up!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      9 years ago from Western NC

      Tomato Heirloom Pie? Wow, that sounds so good. I actually GROW Cherokee Purple tomatoes - they are specially adapted for where I live, which is not far from the Cherokee Reservation here in western NC. They are DELICIOUS! Of course, a nice, juicy beefsteak tomato on a hot summer afternoon is incredibly scrumptious. Thank you for compiling this hub - so wonderful!

    • angela p profile image

      angela p 

      9 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Oh I love tomato sandwiches so much. We live in Virginia and Hanover tomatoes are the best around here. I actually live in Hanover county where they claim to have originated. I can not wait until the vegetable stands are set up here so that I can grab some delicious Hanover tomatoes. Great article.

    • ElizaDoole profile image

      Lisa McKnight 

      9 years ago from London

      This reminds me a lot of the Food Network star Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Italians certainly take their tomatoes seriously, and there is definitely a difference where quality is concerned. Thanks for this useful hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      It tastes somewhat sweeter to me, but stronger is more like it. My taste is at the other end, enjoying more acidic ones. Have not been to the tomato festival for awhile, so I'll have to go this summer and see what's new.

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Liz Rayen 

      9 years ago from California

      I have never heard of Cherokee Purples before your article. I love beefsteaks for my dishes as well. Is it more on the sweet side? I try and stay with the ones that have less acidity to them. Fabulous Hub Patty! The recipe sounds amazing as well. Definately bookmarking this one and sharing. After I vote of course! Lisa


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