Review of Three Heirloom Tomatoes

Basket of heirloom tomatoes.


I can’t believe I’m actually writing about my garden.  Up until 10 years ago I had always had a very prolific garden, but then whoops – life got in the way.  Well, now my garden is back – thanks to Bobby.  Last year he built me two 4′ x 10′ raised beds and spent last fall and winter making the soil for one of the beds.  By April it was ready to plant.

As you can see below, I may have gotten a little carried away in my plantings. In this one bed, I have four heirloom tomatoes, four bell peppers, one cherry bomb pepper, two eggplants and four “bush” cucumbers plants which, I have discovered, that there is no such thing as “bush” cucumbers.  The peppers plants aren’t producing yet, because I had to replace them when the neighborhood racoons found my garden and used it as a playpen.  Several plants got broken, and even though I tried desperately to save them – the attempt was a no go.  But in spite of the racoons, the June heat, and the heavy thunderstorms, my little garden has survived and to date, has provided us with several tomatoes and cucumbers.  Eggplant and peppers are well on there way.

In the left side of the picture below, you can see the corner of the second bed.  I planted it this week with a variety of greens and carrots.  Hopefully, we’ll have a nice fall garden and will be picking greens throughout the winter.


Small raised bed garden |


As with any garden, tomatoes are a “must grow”!  In fact, homegrown tomatoes are the only tomatoes that I’ll eat.  If they don’t come from my own garden or from that of a local farmer’s, then I’m not interested.   I’ll just find something else to put in my salad.  This year we grew heirloom tomatoes, something I’ve never grown before.  Ten to thirty years ago, heirlooms were hard to find and back then, ordering online wasn’t an option.  So this year, when we saw a nice selection of heirlooms at the nursery, that’s what we decided to grow.  We chose three types:  Homesteads (2 plants),  a Black Prince, and a Golden Jubilee.  Below is a little review of these tomatoes – from growing to eating.


Homestead Heirloom Tomatoes

Homestead Heirloom Tomato | mjskitchen.comHomestead Heirloom Tomato |

Click any picture to enlarge.

Homesteads are determinates, meaning that they pretty much all come at once. We bought them because they were said to be a good choice for hot, dry climates.  Well, that has proved to be true.  The plants are loaded and still setting fruit. They were the only plants that  actually set fruit in June when our temperatures were in the high 90s.

The plants have already reached about 6 feet and still growing.  I keep pruning because they are out of control.  We do have cages around them and have had to use stakes and pantyhose (which work great!), to continue to hold them up.

The size of the fruit ranges from about 1″ to 2.5″ in diameter.  I think as we pick them, they’ll get bigger.  Right now, we’re getting a lot of 1 – 1.5″ ones with a few larger ones mixed in.

The fruit is firm but not as meaty as I prefer in a tomato.  They have a relatively high content of liquid and seeds.

Flavor – Traditional tomato flavor – sweet and tomato-y, with a touch of acid.  The flavor might make them a good tomato for tomato and pizza sauce, but as small as they are, they’d be a pain to peel. Plus they would have to be cooked down for quite a while because of the high liquid content.

Will we grow them again?  Probably not.  They were our least favorite in flavor and are yielding too many small tomatoes and not enough of the 2 to 2.5″ ones.  They are determinates which is another strike against them, but since they are ripening late, they might just continue to produce until the first frost.  We’ll see.


Black Prince Heirloom Tomato

Black Prince Heirloom Tomato | mjskitchen.comBlack Prince Heirloom Tomato |






The Black Prince originated in Siberia which makes it ideal for cooler climates, not the high desert.  They really suffered here with our hot June weather, but now that the days and nights are cooling off, they are doing much better.  The plant is loaded and, because they are indeterminates, they are still setting and should continue to set until the first frost, making them quite prolific – we hope. The fruit is slow to turn, so we’ve only gotten a few of these thus far, but it looks like we’ll have plenty in a couple of weeks.

The plants are as tall as the Homesteads, so we’ve been doing lots of staking to help support them.  They seem to be more sensitive to the amount of water they receive versus the other tomatoes.  During the monsoons, the lower leaves were staying green, but curling upwards, which, from what I’ve read, indicates too much water. The leaf curling has stopped now that I’m more in control of how much water they get.

The size of the Black Prince is only about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter.  They have a distinctive plum shape and turn from the bottom up to a beautiful purplish color.  When cut, the insides range from a maroon to almost black.

Flavor – These tomato are so good, that we’ve just been picking them and eating them.  They are very juicy which makes them messy if you just bite into them rather than cutting them.  However, they do have enough meat for their size to make me happy.  They are quite sweet, not the least bit acidic, and just melt in your mouth.  The only draw back IMO, is that the skin is a bit thick, especially for the size of the tomato.

Will we grown them again?  Yes!


Golden Jubilee Heirloom Tomatoes

Golden Jubilee Heirloom Tomato | mjskitchen.comGolden Jubilee Heirloom Tomato |


I have to say right off the bat, that these are our favorites!  In 1943 they won the All American Selection bronze medal and I can see why.

Like the Black Prince, the Golden Jubilee is an indeterminate; therefore, they have been relatively slow (like everything else in the garden), but the plant is now loaded and is still blooming and setting.  I hope we continue to get these until the frost. I might even have Bobby cover them in the late fall to try to make them last as long into winter as possible.

Like most tomatoes, they require caging and support; however, they aren’t near as tall as the Homesteads and Black Prince, making them a little easier to deal with.  In fact, I keep having to move the Homesteads off of them, so they’ll get enough sun and have room to grow.

The fruit is very firm and any where from 2.5 to 3.5″ inches in diameter which is smaller than, say Brandywines, but larger than the other varieties that we have. They are heavy for their size and this is because they are a very meaty tomato – not a lot of liquid and seeds. Perfect for burgers and BLTs.

Flavor – Sweet and juicy with a touch of tartness, but not acidic. Some people may say that they don’t have enough of that “tomato” flavor, but they taste great to me. I can’t wait to get enough to make a gazpacho! They are a low acid tomato making them a good tomato for people like me who have problems with the acidity of tomatoes.

Will we grown them again?  Absolutely!  Next year, I’ll plant at least two!

Here you can get a better idea of the size of each tomato. The Golden Jubilee is about 3″ in diameter.


Heirloom Tomatoes |


Below are some recipes that love heirloom tomatoes.

Rustic Tomato Marinara @Feral Kitchen

Summer Tomato Tart @That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Tomato Tart with Comte’ and Cracked Black Pepper @Food and Style

Pasta Caprese’ @Kitchen Riffs

Heirloom Tomato and Bacon Summer Salad @In Sock Monkey Slippers

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Green Zebra Vinaigrette @Feral Kitchen

Steak and Heirloom Tomato Salad @Magnolia Days

Avocado Toasts with Heirloom Tomatoes, Bacon, and Egg @Southern Boy Dishes

An Awesome Egg BLT @ Family Spice

Bourbon Caramelized Bacon and Heirloom Tomato BLT, Fried Egg, and Smoked Gouda @Half Baked Harvest

Garlic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes @The Novice Chef

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Gazpacho Salad

Strawberry and Tomato Salad with Mint

Chunky Gazpacho

What is your favorite heirloom tomato to eat and to grow? 


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62 Responses to “Review of Three Heirloom Tomatoes”

  1. Carlito Brigante May 27, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    I lived in New Mexico for several years. Family business required I return to the midwest. But I will get back to NM. I lived in Albuquerque.

    I had very successful gardens. I grew many variety of tomatoes, but I had great success with an heirloom that grows well in the midwest. It is a Marglobe. You can buy the Margolobe bedding plants at a big nursery on the northwest side of ABQ. (I can’t recall the name of it.)

    They are an all purpose tomato. Good sliced as fresh and good for sauces and canning. Several of our neighbors and friends commented on how well the Marglobes grew, so it was not just my imagination. They made great marinara and went well with our eggplants for fresh eggplant parmagiana.

    • mj May 27, 2017 at 11:28 am #

      Are you talking about Osuna nursery? It has a great selection of tomatoes, but I’ve never seen Marglobes. I’ll have to look then next time I go out there. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Jami @ An Oregon Cottage April 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    I love this review, MJ – I’m always looking for new tomatoes to try. 🙂 I’ve tried Black Prince, but not the others. My favorite heirlooms are Cherokee Purple, Pineapple and Brandywine, but I like to try different types each year, too.
    Thanks for linking to the Tuesday Garden Party!

    • mj April 26, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      Thanks Jami! I’m so glad you mentioned the Cherokee Purple and Pineapple! I have both of those sitting out waiting to be planted. I’ve bought them before, but have never grown them. So I’m excited.

  3. Evan Wright December 10, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Just happened across this. A quick word to ask that you try a Caspian Pink, I believe it will become your new favorite.

    • mj December 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      I will definitely check these out and thanks so much for bringing them my attention. I love trying new heirlooms!

  4. Nami | Just One Cookbook September 11, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    I always dream of having own veggie garden because I love vegetables so much. Then I realized I’m not very good with taking care of even plants, especially after having kids. I used to do well when I lived alone… I guess I get distracted very easily?! Now we live right next to the canyon and all our plants get eaten by wild animals (well I’m not in THAT suburb haha). I’m jealous of your green garden and how wonderful to get your fresh veggies from the garden. I love heirloom tomatoes a lot. I’m going to check out some links for the recipes!

    • mj September 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

      I live in the middle of the city and I still have to deal with wild animals. those darn raccoons! 🙂 If I have kids and was a fulltime blogger like you, there is no way I would have a garden either.

  5. Shashi @ runninsrilankan August 26, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Wow – you are a tomato growing queen! What a wonderful collection – home grown tomatoes taste so so much better than store bought for sure!!

    • mj August 26, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

      Thanks Shashi!

  6. Raymund August 26, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    I love those yellow one for their sweet and tarty characteristics

    • mj August 26, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      They are my favorites, too!

  7. easyfoodsmith August 26, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Wow! I think having my own garden is something that is not gonna happen till my next birth 😉 I have a nice balcony though but the fact that twice a year we are away for nearly a fortnight means that there is no one to take care of my plants. It happened once that I requested someone to take care of my herbs but she forgot it and by the time we returned everything had turned to dry twigs. I was so disappointed that I decided not to grow any plant again.
    Your garden looks so good…I feel like visiting your place right away 😀

    • mj August 26, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Come on over! I would love to have you visit! What a bummer about your plants. We’re very lucky to have a great BIL to take care of our garden and plants while away. Thanks for coming to spend some time in my garden. 🙂

  8. Katerina August 26, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    I would love to be your neighbor! Perhaps I could bring some Greek food and you could give me some of these delicious tomatoes of yours!

    • mj August 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

      Oh Katerina – sounds like a great idea to me! I think I would be getting the better end of the stick if you’d cooked some of your wonderful food in trade for tomatoes. 🙂

  9. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles August 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Wow, MJ, you really have packed a lot of wonders into your beautiful homemade boxes. I feel like this feature was written for me! I’ve never had the space nor the climate necessary to grow produce of this nature — at least, that is, until now! No more excuses :). And I couldn’t agree with you more about the quality of garden grown tomatoes… our family was simply entranced by the taste of the fresh tomatoes our neighbors shared – incomparable (we actually got the grand tour of their garden this weekend) it sounds like a lot of intelligence goes into tilling the soil for those boxes too… it’s not just dumping a bunch of earth ;-), sand, clay, earth, compaction to think about,… I had no idea. Your post is so inspiring — I love hearing about your success (despite the darn racoons) and I’m already starting the process of self-educating. Who knows, I might even start writing my own garden posts one day ;-).

    • mj August 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

      Thanks so much Kelly! Living in CA, you have no excuse now for not having a garden. I already know that once you get started, I’ll be lusting over your production. 🙂 You’re right – making soil is not easy. Bobby used dried leaves, compost, manure, grass clippings, peat moss, and some old potting soil, then he turned it, watered it down, covered it, turned again, etc. It really didn’t take but a couple of months and here it is. YAY!

  10. Helene DSouza August 25, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Your garden is wonderful MJ! I wish I could grow these tomatoes in my parts but I doubt they will grow due to the humidity. I tried growing different varieties but it never worked out. We have thjose big gardrn rats eating the roots too. You got carried away with the planting? Haha I had more plants in a smaller place last year. Gardening is fun no? 😉

    • mj August 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

      Thanks so much Helene! Oh my goodness – big garden rats? I’ll keep the racoons. 🙂 Glad to hear that others over plant like me. I didn’t mention that in that same bed I also have basil, chives, marigolds and cosmos. 🙂 And YES – gardening is fun!!

  11. Sanjeeta kk August 25, 2014 at 4:56 am # basket of heirloom tomatoes…..that garden chair is calling my name! I can happily sit there all day long shooing away the raccoons for you 🙂

    • mj August 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks Sanjeeta! It calls me out every morning. 🙂 To scare off the racoons, you’d have to sit there all night. 🙂 They usually show up after we get in bed.

  12. Bam's Kitchen August 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    MJ, your garden pictures makes me feel so relaxed. I can almost imagine myself sitting in your lawn chair enjoying the smell of the fresh sweet tomatoes. I am so jealous! I will not be able to enjoy any heirloom tomatoes here in HK but certainly can imagine the flavours and all the enticing recipes you have shared. Happy gardening to you! Take care, BAM

    • mj August 25, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks so much Bam! I do enjoy spending my mornings there.

  13. ray August 24, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I grow tomatoes but I only have them in a 20 something inch pots. I should make raised garden beds like what Bobby made for you. I have big trees in the backyard, so not much sun is going through except for a few small spots. You are absolutely right about homegrown tomatoes and the flavor is different than the commercial ones you buy from supermarkets. I wish I could grow bigger and beautiful looking tomatoes like yours. Sorry if I don’t comment often — life is just too hectic nowadays. Well, have a good week my friend and take care. 🙂

    • mj August 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

      Thanks so much Ray! I know you are very busy with you business so I appreciate it when you do have some time and stop by to say hello. So are you getting any tomatoes off of your pot plants? I have some pepper plants in pots and they are doing quite well. You take care of yourself as well.

  14. Dedy@Dentist Chef August 24, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    wow. that’s must be the most refreshing tomatoes as possible, i almost licking my laptop screen…

    • mj August 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Yes, they are really, really good!! 🙂

  15. Joan August 24, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    Where did you buy your seed. They say that it is sometimes difficult to find a legit vendor with heirloom seed.

    • mj August 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Joan, I actually bought the small plants from a local independent nursery here in town, so I’m hoping that I can trust it when it calls something heirloom.

  16. Hotly Spiced August 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    How lovely to have so many tomatoes in so many varieties. How wonderful to be growing your own as I agree, home-grown tomatoes are just so much better than what you can buy in the shops. I love your review of these heirloom varieties and will remember that the golden jubilee variety is definitely the winner xx

    • mj August 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      Thanks Charlie! I think it is a consensus on on the homegrown tomatoes. 🙂

  17. Rathai August 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    This is such an educative and inspiring post! I read it with a big smile because I was actually googling about tomato plants TODAY about whether you can prune them or not. You have a lovely garden, MJ. Do you have grafted fruit trees also?

    • mj August 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

      Thanks Rathai! Yes, you can prune tomato plants, just don’t overprune. They say to never prune more than 1/3 of the plant at any one time. My pruning is a little today, a little more tomorrow…slow and easy. 🙂 No, I do not have grated fruit trees. All of my fruit trees have died out over the years, so it’s just vegetables now.

      • Rathai August 25, 2014 at 4:53 am #

        Thank you, MJ. I’ll remember this piece of advice. Somehow I was under the impression that you had a peach tree. Not sure why.

        • mj August 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

          Actually, we use to have about 6 peach trees, but that was 20 years ago. You probably saw it on my About page.

  18. Sissi August 23, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    I have enjoyed immensely reading this post, admiring the harvested tomatoes and imagining you taking care of your wonderful garden. The tomatoes look as luscious as good home-grown tomatoes should and I sincerely envy you the space to grow them. When I started to eat organic food, tomatoes were the first product I started to buy and never looked back (though of course it is far from one’s own tomatoes grown with love and care…). I sometimes buy tomatoes from a local farmer at the market, but most of them unfortunately use lots of pesticides and sell watery tasteless stuff, so when I have doubts, I turn to organic tomatoes. Tomato is probably the fruit which suffers most from intensive farming… so I understand completely why you are so fond of yours (I would plant tomatoes first too if I had a garden).

    • mj August 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      Love your comment Sissi! I did the same thing…once I tried organic tomatoes, that was all she wrote! I’m very lucky because, even though I live in a city, there are still areas that are farming communities and most of those farmers are organic farmers, so it’s easy to find organic tomatoes around here. I’m not going to say that they are cheap ($4 to $8/pound), but they are easily available this time of year. It’s nice to finally be growing my own! 🙂

  19. Bill August 23, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    I’m so jealous of your garden, MJ. We tried to grow tomatoes a couple of years ago, but we had to go to war with the squirrels and chipmunks. Just when they were almost ripe, we’d go out and there would be a big bite in them. Glad you had a good harvest!

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

      Thanks Bill! Oh those darn animals. They are so cute, but SO destructive!

  20. Tessa August 23, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    Love your garden MJ! I like your colorful choices in heirloom varieties. I’ve never had any of those varieties before. Next spring I will be sure to look for the golden jubilee. I love that vibrant yellow color. Thank you for linking my blog to your blog. Have a great weekend!

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

      Thanks Tessa and thanks for turning me on to a couple of varieties of heirlooms! Those green zebras are on my list for next year. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  21. Debra August 23, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    We are eating our fill and then some. I have canned so many. Love the looks of that black prince variety.

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks Debra! I probably won’t be canning any, but a few freezer bags of salsa are in order. 🙂

  22. Viviane Bauquet Farre August 22, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    What a joy, MJ. Your tomatoes look perfect.

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      Thanks Viviane!

  23. Judit + Corina @ Glamorous Bite August 22, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    What a beautiful garden and you are so lucky to have so many tomatoes thriving! They are absolutely gorgeous! J+C

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      Thanks so much for the comment and for dropping by!

  24. Angie (@angiesrecipess) August 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    This year I also grew some black tomatoes and I just harvested some this morning 🙂 Love those Golden Jubilee!

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      Both of those tomatoes are just awesome aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Nads August 22, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    I’m so jealous of your tomatoes. As in told you, our vines look great but our first run never got bigger than a ping pong ball. They did ripen and tasted good. This second crop got a good bit bigger, about 1 ½ inches in diameter, but they were on the vine for weeks and never ripened. Finally, I gave up and picked them and made fried green tomatoes which I put on top of a spinach, bacon and pear salad. They were very good and not a waste after all. Maybe next year we’ll do better.

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Nadalyn! Oh your spinach salad sounds pretty awesome. Hopefully I’ll be picking spinach and still have some green tomatoes on the vines. I’d love to try that salad.

  26. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef August 22, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    I love this post. I can’t wait for it to get warm enough to put tomatoes in the ground!

    • mj August 23, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! Y’all should be coming close to the end of winter down there. Hope it starts warming up soon.

  27. Liz August 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I hope to be able to grow some heirlooms in containers next summer. I miss having fresh tomatoes in my backyard! Thanks for including my tart with all the other terrific recipes!

    • mj August 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

      Thanks Liz and you are most welcome! I’ve missed fresh tomatoes as well. They make such a difference!

  28. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz August 21, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    So glad you have reclaimed a garden space and your tomatoes looks beautiful, would love to try the Black Prince one. I have a killer green thumb; as in I kill anything green and growing 🙂

    • mj August 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      You’re so funny Evelyne! 🙂 Sorry to hear about your “killer green thumb”. 🙂 Actually Bobby likes the Black Prince as much as the Jubilees. I like the Jubilees “a little” bit more. Thanks for stopping by!

  29. John@Kitchen Riffs August 21, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Great review! I love heirloom tomatoes. So do our local squirrels, alas. 🙁 But we’ll try again next year — I have something schemed up that I’m sure will thwart them. Maybe. 😉 Great garden — we have raised beds too, and squeeze in way too much. And I’m pretty much the same way you are about store bought tomatoes, although I’ll buy cherry or grape ones — their flavor is usually OK (although not as good as it was a few years ago). Fun post — thanks.

    • mj August 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks so much John! You have squirrels, I have racoons. Those darn animals! 🙂 Glad to hear someone else squeezes too much into their garden. It’s hard for me to see the end result right after I plant, so I figure I can always squeeze in a little bit more. 🙂

  30. Choc Chip Uru August 21, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Heirloom tomatoes seem to be on everyone’s radar these days, your review is fantastic 🙂
    I loved reading about their growth and flavours, and your garden is lovely!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • mj August 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      Thanks so much Uru! You’re right – heirlooms have become the mainstream nowadays which, when you do a taste test, it’s easy to see why. There is a big difference.

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