What is an Heirloom Tomato?

If you ever find yourself wondering why a recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes, we have the answer.

Mary Elizabeth Davis
Two Heirloom Tomatoes
Photo: Melina Hammer

An heirloom tomato is simply a variety of a tomato that has been passed down, through several generations. This means it has not been bred for mass production—rather, it's grown exclusively for its taste, quality of fruit, and unique size. Heirlooms come in all sizes and colors—red, yellow, black, pink, orange, and green tomatoes. They’re not always perfectly round like the ones at your local grocery store, but you won’t care a bit once you taste them. Heirloom tomatoes are filled with over-the-top flavor and will make your BLT that much better.

Some of these tomatoes have names as colorful as their fruit: ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ ‘Arkansas Traveler,’ ‘Yellow Taxi,’ ‘German Johnson,’ ‘Boxcar Willie,’ ‘Black Krim,’ and ‘Mountain Princess,’ just to name a few.