Pink and Purple Tomatoes

 

1884  1884 ($5.75)  (B)    ((HG) (E) 78 days. 1884 is a superbly flavored old-time tomato which grows on a strong vigorous plant and produces big luscious 2 lb. deep dark pink fruit with luxurious flavor and sets fruit readily in hot weather. It is said that the original seeds were discovered in 1884 by a Mr. Williamson in the debris after the big flood in Friendly, West Virginia. This grand fruit has taken top mention year after year in tomato tastings all over the country. Easy to grow and very productive. Marvelous for fresh eating and makes a luscious sauce.

 

 

   Anna Russian ($5.75)    (VE) (HG) 65 days. This was the very first heirloom tomato I ever tasted and one of the finest of the oxheart tomatoes. The plant has very delicate, wistful foliage as do many of the Russian varieties. Don't let that fool you! Anna is easy to grow and bears heavily during hot and cool weather.

 

Years ago my mom brought me some perfect heart-shaped Anna Russians from her garden. She had gotten the seeds from a friend. I tasted; I swooned. From 8 to 12 ounces, the fruits she brought had grown in beautiful clusters of 2 or 3--I wouldn't be without it.

 

Still in my top 5 favorites after all these years, Anna Russian is always among the first few plants I set out in my home garden every spring in a little Tomato Love ceremony. Its perfect heart shape in colors ranging from pink to red make it very special indeed.

Anna Russian seeds came to Craig Lehoullier from Brenda Hillenius of Oregon, who got the seeds from her grandfather, Kenneth Wilcox. Years earlier he had been given the original seeds from a Russian immigrant friend--a genuine example of the intriguing history these grand old tomatoes carry with them.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ANNA RUSSIAN:  Be sure to note that Anna Russian has droopy, wispy, delicate foliage as do so many of the heart-shaped tomatoes-- it is caused by the 'wilt' gene. There is nothing wrong with your plant; it's supposed to look that way. One of my customers was convinced by a well-meaning neighbor to rip out her Anna Russian plants.  "There's something wrong with them plants, Hildy, rip 'em out..." And she did, then called me to ask for a refund.  I gave her the news; her heart broke. It was too late for her to replant that season but she ordered Anna Russian the following year and had a beautiful crop!

 

  

 

Bear Claw ($6.25) 75 days  

I've been hearing about this extremely rare fruit in heirloom tomato circles--everyone wants it! We've got it! Incredibly high production. From Lisa VonSaunder, "A fabulous tomato in every way you can measure. A huge tomato with some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever known. I never saw tomato plants grow so large so fast. Huge plant with stems like tree trunks. The first tomatoes of the season were one pound, then the fruit started coming in larger and larger and larger until they were the largest of all my tomatoes this season. Fabulous deep, rich, pink fruit that beat all the others in taste.

They grew so large the branches were drooping even with one fruit on them. So, if you want to win first place for size but you treasure flavor above all else, this is the tomato to grow! Do you want to have the most tomatoes ever grown on a vine? Then this is the plant for you!"

Photograph by Lisa VonSaunder of Amishland Seeds, used here with her kind permission.

 

Brandywine, Pink, Sudduth Strain ($5.75) 82 days. (B)  (HG)  Around 1980 a Mrs. Sudduth of Tennessee gave some seeds of this variety, which had been grown by her family for more than 100 years, to tomato seedsman Ben Quisenberry of Ohio.

 

This is thought to be the old-time original Brandywine tomato. Many gardeners consider this strain the best Brandywine with fruit that is superior in taste and smoothness. Its tomatoes are indeed special, 1 to 2 pound pink beefsteaks with the delectably complex, rich, sweet flavor that has made Brandywine justifiably famous.  Big, beautiful, pink and luscious with classic heirloom flavor, it is the tomato to which other heirlooms are compared. "Is it as good as Brandywine?" Each fruit is a treasure.

 

 

 

 

 NEW FOR 2013

NEW FOR 2013   Caspian Pink ($5.75) 80 days.    (B)  Often called the Queen of the Big Pinks, Caspian Pink has been requested by so many customers, I've added it for 2013. A big winner in tomato tastings and ranked in the top 10 of almost everyone's 'best' tomato lists, Caspian pink is easy to grow and very productive.

With flavor rivaling the best of the Brandywines, along with its handsome shape, beautiful hue and high production, this old time Russian variety offers huge pink fruits, from 1 to 2 lbs, which grow well everywhere and are a perfect choice for cooler climates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherokee Purple ($5.75) (HG) (E) 70 days. A legendary and beautiful tomato, at least 100 years old and said to have been grown by the Cherokee People. 12 oz. deep dark dusky rose-purple, deep red inside, with sweet, rich and smoky, luscious flavor. Cherokee Purple is a garden staple, in everyone's favorite list for a good reason, disease resistant, reliable and easy to grow, and great one for your heirloom or heritage garden. 

 

 

 

 

 

Eva Purple Ball ($5.75) 65 days     (E) A beautiful, adaptable, and reliable choice for your garden. Easy to grow, virtually problem free, and often called the most beautiful tomato of all. Eva Purple Ball produces perfectly round, deep pink, 6-8 oz, juicy, sweet luscious globes with an outstanding rich and refreshing flavor. At first bite, the tanginess dominates, giving way a moment later to an enduring sweetness with overtones of tropical fruit and spice. Growing very well in high heat and humidity, its very high-yield and disease resistance makes this prolific garden staple an outstanding choice for novice gardeners and experts alike. Originally from the Black Forest of Germany in the late 1800's. This plant out produced all others in my 2005 summer garden.

 

 

 

 

   

Foxy Lady  ($6.95) (E)    (70 to 75 days). This rapturous little cousin of Purple Haze is the newest addition to our heirloom tomato selection.

My seeds for this exquisite 1” deep purple cherry tomato come from Dana Ferrin of Seattle, who grew out the Original Purple Haze for four generations to see if it would grow true-to-variety. He sent me some seeds to grow out and to our delight, the resulting fruit is a half-sized, full flavored, sweet and sassy little 1 oz. cousin to Purple Haze which I’ve named Foxy Lady. The flavor, very much like Purple Haze, is energizing, elaborate and dazzling with a sweet, seductive background of earthy nuance and lingering flavors. I was mesmerized by the flavors of these cute little heartbreakers.

Early ripening and growing in mass abundance on big plants in clusters of 5 to 7 fruits, Foxy Lady ripens in only 70-72 days from plant out. Unlike the regular-leafed Purple Haze, Foxy Lady has some of the biggest potato type leaves I’ve ever seen. They'll make you wanna get up and scream... and just like the Original Purple Haze, which is also available for 2014, Foxy Lady has a muted, subtle saltiness along with a tiny touch of tang to balance its big full-bodied sugar. Got to be all mine, all mine….

Dana has donated seeds so we can grow and offer this very rare plant to our customers and donate part of the proceeds to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism.  www.talkaboutcuringautism.org. Thank you, Dana!

Supply is rather limited, please order early. A Laurel's exclusive.

Photograph By Dana Ferrin, used here with his gracious permission.

 

 

 

 

 

Marianna's Peace ($5.95) 80 days. (B) (HG)      One of our top 3 sellers. The sugary nectar of this huge 5" tomato's creamy, dense, deep pink-red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance and sublime, complex flavors reminiscent of the finest of the "old-fashioned" tomato flavors.  This big, beautiful irresistible up to 3 lb. deep pink-red fruit is the talk of the tomato world and has found its way into Top 10 favorite tomato lists of gourmands worldwide. It is perfection. Supply is limited, please order early. It is said that Marianna's Peace is among the 3 finest tasting tomatoes in existence.

Marianna was from a family of farmers in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. During World War II, in May of 1945 when she was 17, Russian soldiers came to her school and forced Marianna and all her schoolmates into a truck to be taken to Siberia. During the journey, she and a few others escaped by jumping from the moving truck, but Marianna was shot in the leg just as she crossed the Czech border. With the help of her friends, she was able to continue on to the town of Weiden, Bavaria. She lost all contact with her parents and brothers for the next ten years, but after a long and diligent search with the aid of The Red Cross, she finally found them in 1955. 

Before he died, her father gave her a little bundle of the seeds. 

Marianna married, and in 1957 moved to Washington State with her husband where they raised four children.

The legacy of these seeds reaches back to the early 1900's and year after year the tomatoes borne from this marvelous heirloom continue to be treasured for their outstanding taste and beauty. Incredibly sweet, creamy, with dense flesh, rich and luscious, reminiscent of the finest of those "old-fashioned" tomato flavors, the memories of which are the stuff of dreams for all tomato lovers. 

For those who want the best; these plants are precious and worth the cost. A Marianna's Peace plant makes a delightful and treasured gift for any tomato lover.

 

 

 Momotaro  ($6.95) (H) (VE)   62 days. (HG) This very popular early-ripening hybrid variety, (and Dolly Parton's favorite tomato), is being offered due to hundreds of requests from my customers who have found Momotaro fruits at Farmer's Markets. It is exceptionally sweet, low-acid, juicy and just beautiful with a very long shelf life. The 6 ounce fruits are a stunning shade of pink, full flavored, luscious and bountiful on the vine, with superb disease resistance.

I smuggled one into an heirloom tasting party, and the folks loved it. The revelation that it's a hybrid was a splendid surprise to the gathered heirloom aficionados and motley crew of tomato gourmets and gourmands. 

Named for an ancient legend of Momotaro, or Peach Boy, Momotaro was a baby boy found inside a giant peach by childless peasant farmers who had longed for a child of their own. He grew to be a famous warrior for peace. Among his many achievements: conquering, and then encouraging the ogres of Ogre Island to stop pillaging and be nice ogres. Each year the Momotaro festival in Japan celebrates the legend of this brave and wondrous child. 

 

 

 

Omar's Lebanese ($5.75)  (BBB)     80 days. The big one! Omar's Lebanese has a passionately sweet and complex flavor. These immense fruits--deep dark pink and juicy--grow to 3-4 lbs, with excellent disease resistance. A spectacular tomato. Really easy to grow, out of this world. Takes 2 hands to pick it. In my top 5.

 

 

 NEW FOR 2014
Purple Haze Homegrown ($9.95)        (E) (HG) (H) 70 to 75 days.        

Presenting Purple Haze Homegrown. Our rarest plant. This exquisite deep purple fruit arose from a Purple Haze plant growing in our home garden. The fruit was identical but the leaves were potato type. We grew it out and it stabilized for 5 generations. I have named this open-pollinated, potato leafed plant Purple Haze Homegrown. An elegant 2 to 3 ounce very large cherry-type or 'saladette' tomato with rapturous flavor, a seductive shape and sensuous color. I have lowered the price from $14.95 as the seeds have become more abundant.

Many growers have tried to grow out this fruit in an attempt to stabilize it and make it open-pollinated.

We will continue to grow and offer this rare plant to our customers and donate part of the proceeds to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism.  www.talkaboutcuringautism.org.

Originally created by Keith Mueller (with stunning success) to improve the flavor of Black Cherry, its name was inspired by its beguiling color and parental lineage which combines Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Black Cherry. Great tasting fruits are sweeter and larger than Black Cherry and Foxy Lady, about 2-3 oz -- golf ball size.  See photograph above.

The flavor, for the lucky few who have eaten one, is lively, sweet and sparkling with a fine tanginess, passionate with earthy nuances and lingering sweetness. Twice the size of its cousin Foxy Lady, Purple Haze Homegrown does well in high heat.

Early ripening and growing in abundance on a huge plant in clusters of 5 to 7 fruits, Purple Haze Homegrown ripens in only 70 days from plant out.

Adding to its extraordinary attributes, it has a very subtle yet seductive saltiness--challenging to describe. Whatever it is, this fruit put a spell on me. 

Exceedingly rare, its ravishing beauty and flavor are unequaled in the tomato world.  This is a rare opportunity for you to enjoy the Purple Haze Homegrown Experience.  A Laurel's exclusive.

NOTE:  A portion of the proceeds from Purple Haze Homegrown will be donated to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism, to assist families of autistic children. Donations will be made in the names of a couple of very fine and winsome young fellows, Caleb and Ethan.  www.talkaboutcuringautism.org.

 

 

 

 

  

Purple Dog Creek ($5.95) 80 days. (B)    The finest of the big purples, with awesome unforgettable flavor. This extremely rare old family heirloom is from Dog Creek in Hart County, Kentucky. Purple Dog Creek tomatoes are gorgeous deep purplish-pink fruits, 1 to 1½ lbs. each with the old-time rich, heavenly flavors you long for in your tomato patch.  Very hardy and disease resistant, they stand up to cold temps and weird weather.

 

Seeds for my plants are from Amishland Seeds owner, Lisa Von Saunder.  If I may paraphrase her notes:

 

"This super big, deep pink tomato was the biggest surprise of the season. Not only huge and everything wonderful in a tomato, but there is a heartwarming story about their origin. This tale is what makes hunting for heirlooms such fun."

"At a picnic supper given for a Martinsburg, West Virginia church group, these tomatoes were given as a thank you gift for church volunteers who did home improvements for local low income, elderly folks."

"The tomatoes were such a hit, the preacher asked if there were seeds to share. One gentleman at the supper said the tomatoes were from his garden and went home to fetch seeds. The seeds continued to be passed along until I received them from my southern tomato collector friend who has since passed on."

"They are without a doubt one of the best big purples I have ever had the privilege to eat. And trust me, I have eaten my share of wonderful big pink fruits. Indescribably delicious, I can't come up with enough superlatives to cover their taste. Meaty and lovely and oh so large. Complex blend of sweetness with a deep purplish-pink hue."

Lisa Von Saunder's photograph of Purple Dog Creek is used here with her gracious permission.

 

 

 

 

 

Todd County Amish  ($5.75)  82 days.   (One of Laurel's new Favorites!) A genuine Amish family heirloom tomato.

 

Last season I had a chat with my sweet friend Lisa Von Saunder of Amishland Seeds. I asked, "So, Lisa, what's the very best big Amish tomato? The most awesome flavored one -- I mean the one that makes your eyes roll into the back of your head?"   She said, "Laurel, you have got to try Todd County Amish, it is incredible!" So I did.  Lisa's right. We went crazy for them!  Huge, beautiful, luscious, deep pink, 1 to 2 pound slightly fluted beefsteaks on potato leafed plants. Delicious, elaborate, sweet, rich, old time tomatoey flavors. Todd County Amish produces scads of fruit all season right up to frost. Unforgettable.  When you bite into one of these you won't want to share it--but go ahead, it produces huge harvests. Lisa knows what she's talkin' about when it comes to things Amish.

 

Photographs courtesy Gary Ibsen/TomatoFest and Amishland Seeds/Lisa Von Saunder.

 

 

 

 

    NEW FOR 2014

Rosalita ($5.95) 60 days.   

You know that certain sunset when the sky is deep pink and it takes your breath away? That's the color of Rosalita. Growing in long sensuous clusters, sweet as honey wine and juicy like a plum, this pretty little sweetie will have you swooning and begging for more. Its bountiful harvest in only 60 days from plant-out will give you enough to satisfy your tomato heart with some to spare for very special friends. With tiny iridescent sparkles, this is the perfect grape tomato, elongated, luscious, unforgettable.

 

 

 

 

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