What Are Heirloom Tomatoes?

  • Preserved by Families
  • Have a Story
  • Drippy Delicious
  • Sometimes Ugly
  • Mouth Watering
  • Collected by Seed Savers
  • Over 50 Years Old
  • Open Pollinated
  • AKA Heritage Tomatoes






Hybrid tomatoes

Varieties produced by crossing two different varieties of tomatoes via hand-pollination. Hybrids don’t reproduce in kind, meaning plants grown from hybrid seeds don’t duplicate (in form or genetics) the parents from which the seeds were saved.







Heirloom Tomatoes

Open-pollinated varieties whose seeds produce new plants exactly like the parent unless natural pollination or spontaneous mutation occurs. The definition of heirloom/heritage varies greatly, but according to tomato experts Craig LeHoullier and Dr. Carolyn Male, all heirloom fall into 4 classes

  • Family Heirlooms
    • Varieties handed down through several generations of one family or extended family
  • Commercial Heirlooms
    • Open-pollinated varieties introduced by commercial seed companies prior to 1950
  • Created Heirlooms
    • Varieties produced by purposely crossing two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid, then de-hybridizing the new variety by breeding it for however many generation needed to stabilize its characteristics (up to 7-8 generations)
  • Mystery Heirlooms
    • New varieties created when two heirlooms cross-pollinate (most likely by bee cross-pollination with one (or both) parents unknown)