My favourite heritage and heirloom tomato varieties are all open-pollinated and so I am able to save seed from all of them.  I hold 67 varieties in my library, a mix of sizes, colours and culinary uses.  They all have their own stories to tell and are important in food cultures around the world.  Deciding which ones make the top ten are first and foremost because of their flavour.


This indeterminate American heirloom, Cherokee Purple is the best salad tomato I grow.  Large fruit are abundant on sturdy plants that do best in a greenhouse.  Deeply flavoured with a wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity.  Perfect with mozzarella and basil, a dribble of olive oil and sprinkle of salt.  Utter bliss.  The full story of this wonderful tomato can be found here


2. Nello’s Plum

I was given seed of this indeterminate classic Italian plum tomato by a lovely farmer in Tuscany, Nello.  It is my favourite cooking tomato being perfect for passata, bottling as chopped tomatoes and drying to be stored in olive oil.  Fabulous picked when fully ripe for soups and sauces. Indeterminate

3. Bolivian Orange Cherry

Held by the Swiss seed savers Pro Specie Rara, this is right at the top of my list of favourite cherry tomatoes.  Very early, sweet and flavoursome, the trusses can grow to a meter in length with huge clusters of lovely fruit.  Indeterminate.

4. Burmese Sour tomato

I discovered this multi-lobed fruit in a market in Yangon, Myanmar. There is nothing sur about it although it is not sweet but is used in much sour cuisine in Myanmar and across many parts of the Indian sub-continent in curries.  I also like it sliced on bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a grinding of salt.

5. Syrian Stuffer

A commercial variety from Future Seeds of Aleppo, Syria, I bought a packet of seed out of interest.  However, what I grew bared no resemblance to the image on the packet.  But thee large and delicious fruit are perfect for stuffing and also grilling or using in a Mozzarella and tomato salad with basil.  Indeterminate and vigorous.

6. Cornue des Andes

This is a very fine quality 19th century French heritage tomato that was widely – and rightly – prized for making sauces, soups and in French cuisine.  Indeterminate.

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