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Best heirloom tomato varieties for heavy production

Mike Guillory

Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 26
I can't decide which is the best variety of heirloom tomato to get for heavy production.  I want to can the tomatos primarily for use in salsas and chili etc.  I was wondering if anyone had tried the heirloom roma varieties or had any heirloom varieties that were abundant producers.  Space is limited so an heirloom variety with good yield is what Im looking for. 
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6883
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
Without knowing where you are located, it would be difficult to recommend a specific species.  The PNW, with its cool summers require an early variety.  The hot/humid south has varieties that do well there.

I do NOT recommend Amish Paste, as they are too watery for a paste type tomato.  You need too many, and they take a long time to render down.  Most "Romas" are considered "Paste" tomatoes, but most are lacking a true tomato flavor unless rendered down into a thick paste.

An excellent choice for a flavorful canning/paste type (that also makes a very good salad tomato) would be the "Opalka".  It is an heirloom from Poland that has exceptional flavor, and very vigorous plants.  It is a high yielder in most zones.

For the world's largest, most complete database of heirloom tomatoes, go here:

Tatiana has worked for years developing the database.  She offers many of the varieties herself, but also provides links to other reputable vendors.  The site is a "must" for anybody looking to compare heirloom tomatoes.  Since she is from the former USSR, she has more Russian varieties available than anybody else.  She is honest and fair (she is also in BC, Canada which makes it easier for Canadians ordering).

Good luck...enough canned tomatoes to make it through until next year's harvest is an essential part of homesteading.

Many of the "San Marzano" varieties are also very popular, and productive.

Susanna de Villareal-Quintela

Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
I'm in the Midwest, zone 5, and have the opposite experience with Amish Paste.  I love Amish Paste and would be lost without them.  Mine get to be the size of many beefsteak varieties and are very, very meaty.  It takes 5 or more romas are no match.

For processing my any of my tomatoes being (paste or otherwise), I always remove the seeds and "drain" the in the flesh (in the fridge) overnight to take off extra moisture.  I use the juice to make a really lovely vegetable stock. 

I love Cherokee Purples and Orange Oxhearts. MMM... makes me sad tomato season is almost over!
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
when you are making paste or sauce sometimes it is best to drain off some of the juice or even partially dry the tomatoes before cooking them down, you can use the juice in soups or other meals, and you have less cooking down time..some people just cut them in sections and put them in a collander over a bowl for a while before processing.


Bloom where you are planted.
Carina Robicheaux

Joined: Nov 08, 2011
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
Small paste types take forever to process if you have a lot. I was impressed with the size, vigor and yield of 'Cuore Di Bue' up to 1lb paste tomato similar to Amish paste. I can't speak to flavor cause I can't eat them. I'm allergic to nightshades

You can't fight the waves but you can learn to surf.
Vicki Hoffman

Joined: Feb 17, 2012
Posts: 3
I'm in SE Louisiana- I'm trying these, mostly because these are the Heirloom varieties I found in local nurseries. I'll let you know how it turns out.
1) Carolina Gold
2) Beef Master
3) Cherokee Purple
4) Brandywine
Jordan Lowery

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
step 1) buy at least 10 heirloom tomato varieties that seem to fit your needs.
step 2) grow them
step 3) save seed from your favorite high yielding plants
step 4) repeat

after a few years you will have tomato varieties that you love to eat, and love the way they grow.

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Amedean Messan

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 925
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
Brandywine is not nearly as productive as Mortgage Lifters.

Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
Ken Peavey

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2523
Location: FL
Red Fig is a pear shaped fruit the size of a cherry tomato. Being a cherry tomato, the fruit will bear and ripen earlier than roma or beefsteak types. Although the fruit is small, it can be abundant. The flavor is tops.

Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
Matt Smith

Joined: Feb 04, 2012
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
This will be my third year growing heirloom tomatoes in central Ohio (Zone 6a) and so far I've found "Costoluto" to be the most unbelievable producer. Vigorous but quite indeterminate. Vines damn near broke down the door and started breaking up furniture.
Varina Lakewood

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
It depends greatly on your soil.
For instance, I can't even get Mortgage Lifters to produce on my soil (trying one last time this year), and Brandywine puts out sluggishly and grudgingly, but Striped German, Valencia, and Great White do decently. The one tomato we've found that puts out loads of tomatoes is Stupice.
You should try a small variety of the ones that seem like they might do best for you and see what thrives. Keep notes. Even if you don't get lucky this year, you'll be wiser next year.

By the way, limited space is only limited by creativity. One year I planted a 5x5 raised bed with corn and cukes in the middle, twenty tomato plants around the perimeter, marigolds along the perimeter just outside and between the tomatoes, and a clump of chives in one corner. Scarlet runner beans in a little spot a few inches away where they could run up the drainpipe. Summersquash in a pot next to it. This area only got morning sun. The only thing that didn't thrive were the cukes, and I even got some of them. I was still getting tomatoes (threw old sheets over them to avert light frosts) a month after we started getting frosts. Enough tomatoes that I was literally having to go find people to give them to. Also, with this method, the racoons ignored my corn, whereas they totally flattened my neighbor's stand alone patch of corn.
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