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Heirloom tomatoes: the big pinks

August 22, 2007|Russ Parsons

Peak season

Brandywine tomatoes: Heirloom tomato lovers tend to be passionate about their preferences. Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter . . . . All of these can be great tomatoes, given the right growing conditions. But if you had to take a poll, the tomato that probably would come out on top most often would be the Brandywine. A fruit with a tangled past, there are references to a tomato variety called Brandywine going back as far as the 1880s. According to tomato fancier Craig LeHoullier, the current strain was introduced into the Seed Savers Exchange collection in 1982, a gift from an Ohio gardener who said his family had been growing the plants for more than 80 years. Regardless of its true heritage, the Brandywine is a big, pink tomato (fruits average about a pound each) that can develop an incomparably rich flavor and meaty texture. It's the kind of tomato people dream about when they hear the word "beefsteak."

Beylik Farm, $2.50 per pound.

--Russ Parsons

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