Over the past seven years, organic farmer David Zaback of Z Food Farm has trialed more than 150 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Here, in his words, are his favorites:
Aunt Ruby’s German Green: While this doesn’t look like a traditional tomato—it ripens to green with a pink blush on the blossom end— Aunt Ruby epitomizes the perfect beefsteak tomato, with a splendid balance of sweetness and acidity. You won’t find it many places, however, as it bruises easier than many other tomatoes and often can’t make it to market.
Cherokee Chocolate: Originating as a rogue in a patch of the better- known Cherokee Purple, Cherokee Chocolate ripens to a gorgeous mahogany color and delights us with a sublimely rich flavor that rivals any other tomato. As Bob Ross would say, Cherokee Chocolate was a happy accident!
Eva Purple Ball: A medium-sized, globe-shaped pink tomato, Eva has the smooth texture and sweetness that we all long for in a salad tomato. That it resists disease, withstands heat and produces abundantly is a wonderful bonus!
Speckled Roman: A plum tomato that doesn’t taste like cardboard! My dad’s favorite tomato for his famous salsa, Speckled Roman is meaty and delicious, like a beefsteak. It is also strikingly beautiful, with golden-orange zebra stripes running down a dark red background.
Striped German: What a beauty! Sweeter than it is acidic, Striped German is a very large yellow-red, bicolor beefsteak tomato that always steals the show at market. While many initially hesitate to spend over $4 on a tomato, converts return every week for at least one more.
Wapsipinicon Peach: Not for the tomato purist, Wapsipinicon Peach is a small, yellow tomato with peach-like fuzz that is more sweet than acidic. That it is named after the Wapsipinicon River from my homeland in Iowa—where I attended Camp Wapsie throughout grade school—adds a nostalgic touch as well.
Z Food Farm
3501 Princeton Pike, Lawrence Township