Italian Heirloom Tomato
Winner of Seed Savers Exchange’s 2012 Tomato Tasting. Outstanding variety from Italy. Plants are loaded with red fruits weighing over a pound. One of the most productive varieties we have grown at Heritage Farm. Excellent full tomato flavor. Ideal for slicing and canning—very little waste and easy to peel.
- 70-80 days from transplant
- Indeterminate - Fruit ripens throughout the season
- Best-selling slicing tomato
- Winner of SSEs 2012 Tomato Tasting
- Bright red fruits grow to over 1 pound
- Excellent full tomato flavor
- Extremely productive
This variety works for:
- Fresh eating
Store your tomatoes at room temperature. The flavor and texture of tomatoes suffer when the fruit is chilled.
Heirloom tomatoes are bred for their flavor and simple preparation best allows that intense flavor to shine through. Tomatoes can be sliced and drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper or layer slices with basil and mozzarella for a Caprese salad.
Roasted tomatoes have a richer, concentrated flavor.
There are hundreds of salsa recipes to try and most are dramatically improved with the use of heirloom tomatoes. Tomatoes are also the main ingredient in Gazpacho, a cold soup that is perfect for summer.
Instructions - Sow seeds indoors ¼" deep. Tomatoes are sensitive to freezing temperatures, so wait to transplant outdoors until the soil is warm. Plant in full sun.
- Start Indoors: 6 weeks before last frost
- Germination: 7-14 Days
- Plant Outdoors: 24-36” Apart
- Support: Cage, stake, or trellis
Ratings & Reviews
large fruits, great taste
by Ohio zone 6
I love this tomato. It produces huge, meaty tomatoes that can be used on a sandwich, fresh eating, or in sauces. This plant will get huge and the weight of the large tomatoes must be supported. Don’t use those cheap “tomato cages”. Love the quality of seeds from SSE. The seeds all germinated easily. I will grow this one every year.
Fragile and sensitive plants.
by Cody Bronk
Started these seeds 10 weeks ago, so can't speak of the fruit yet. What I can speak to is the plant hardiness. They were slow growers from out the gate. Started 20 varieties this year and this and the Salvaterra Select are the poorest performing by far. Plants are willowy and seem to overeact to even minimal changes in temp or having slightly too wet or dry soil. Crossing my fingers on how they will perform out of doors. Not very optimisticPut them in a mostly shady spot for 30 min when that read 65° and they looked suicidal upon my first inspection. Brought them in immediately. My Cherokee Purple, Brandywines (purchased here also) and the rest that went on the same field trip stayed out most of that day and the next. They are all looking glorious!
Sensitive to hardening off...
I agree with Cody, that these seem more sensitive than other varieties. I am still in the indoor phase with mine, but after setting out a couple days to harden off (in filtered sunlight, minimal wind, and short time bursts), they come in looking TERRIBLE (yellowing leaves, wilting) while all of the other plants that were out with them look fine. Maybe it's a water or nutrient issue, but the conditions have been the same for my other varieties and they are doing fine. Perhaps they just need an even slower hardening off process---hoping for good things once they are actually in the soil! :)
Great Canning and Sauce Tomato
Excellent tomato for making sauce at the end of season and canning but also wonderful used fresh. These tomatoes can get large and meaty and with low amounts of seeds and pulp they are a breeze to process. Plants are a bit more spindly than others BUT with proper care and fertilization and plenty of compost at beginning of season have potential to grow big and produce lots of tomatoes. This is the only one I grow yearly for sauce, canning and everything Italian. I LOVE this tomato! I grow this in Utah zone 6.
I bought these and the Gold Medal variety to plant in my garden- I live just south of Houston Texas. This variety was slower to grow and less healthy than the Gold Medal... they're catching up height and health wise, but the fruit are ripening at the size of a grape!!! They taste fine, but they're not at all what I'd hoped for. In our climate I have to watch for things that aren't as heat/humidity tolerant, but I've never had a tomato struggle like these have. My hopes were so high that they would actually be good for slicing and canning... dang it!
Amazing taste in stewed tomatoes!
Grew these last year (zone 6B), very VERY wet year. Plants got big, had big fruit, but predictably they split badly—as did most of my outdoor tomatoes. Taste was OK but not great. However, I froze some (took off blossom ends and froze whole in freezer bags)—ran them under hot water to get the skins off and made stewed tomatoes. The taste was AMAZING! A bit watery, but that might have been because of the wet year. I have 3 outside now (July) that are getting huge and starting to put on fruit, and one in the hoop house, so this will be a test to see if they like drought (which we are having now) or dry with intense heat (the hoop house). Definitely worth trying—these are probably heat lovers, judging from other posts. And possibly excellent for cooking, although not dry like a paste tomato.
We've never had a problem with these seeds/plants, so I'm not sure what the issues some had who reviewed these as fragile poor growing plants, they've always been very hardy for us. We've been growing this variety from seed in NE Iowa for almost 2 decades and they are one of our favorites. They are always strong and hardy plants that generally grow 7-8 foot tall or higher in our garden and are very good producers. The tomatoes are huge and flavorful, perfect for sandwiches! Top of the line seeds! I honestly don't think we've ever had poor growing seeds from SSE.
No luck this year.
I'm sad to write that these tomato plants are very sad and unproductive. One plant gave a tiny red tomato that a bird ate :( The other plant has not even flowered. Maybe it was a bad seed year based on the other poor reviews? I'm going to try them again next year because they look fantastic and based on the other successful reviews it's worth trying again. Other tomatoes from Seed Savers are growing well!
Very Good Tomato
Produces heavy and was the first one to ripen. Very good taste.
Great tomato! high yield, flavorful, and deep red color.
First tomatoes to ripen on the vines and they keep coming in! Very pleased with them. Weather here has been 95+ for weeks, so maybe they are real heat lovers?
Started these a bit late in New England (Zone 5a), but we have big fat unripe tomatoes growing. It is getting cold now, so I guess we will have to make Fried Green Tomatoes! We just put the seeds directly into the garden. Can't wait to try planting them earlier next year from transplant, so we get ripe tomatoes. They are big and beautiful though!
Will plant every year
Been growing this tomato for a few years and saving seeds. This year they still produced well but leaves were spindly as others have said. Am buying new seed packet this year to see if it fixes the issue. Still worth the planting great flavor with good production
by Marguerite Michigander
I’ve grown Italian Heirlooms from SeedSavers for about 10-years and have enjoyed their dense flesh and flavor. I’ve grown them from SS Plants and from seed alongside Desters, Gold Medals and Amish Paste and have not had any exceptional problems. Just give them a solid start and keep them trimmed. I choose Italians due to their EARLIER ripening date. Michigan is always susceptible to blights, and harvest is always a race to the earliest finish. Italians have stood the test of time and flavor in all kinds of springs and summers.
I absolutely loved these. Big and great producer.
Thumbs up for Italian Heirloom tomatoes
One of the best tomatoes we have. They always look sick...., but produce like crazy. Meaty for sauces. We have gone 85% Italian Heirlooms in our gardens for a reason. Oh, by the way: they have beaten my Early Girls by 1 to 3 days to ripe from transplant. Thank you for always having them in stock for early planting.
Slow starter but catches up quickly, amazing flavor!
Full and well balanced classic tomato flavor, seems to be well suited for my PNW climate. Big fruits but not unwieldy. Decent production. Slow starter post transplant but don't turn your back on it - its green growth can get away from you quickly. Be prepared to stake and prune multiple times throughout the growing season. This is a permanent fixture in my garden plans every year.
Does not seem to do well in heat
This is a great tomato for all gardeners. I have grown this tomato for over 10 years with the seeds i received from a friend. This year, was the first year I had a set back. My plants took off great and were covered with tons of blossoms. However, they did not set. I had approximately 3 tomatoes total out of 60 plants during the month of June and first part of July. They finally began setting and did great. The only thing I was able to conclude was, we had an early hot spell with temperatures around 100. I grow 10 other tomato varieties and they were not affected by the heat. I was able to harvest only a fraction of the tomatoes this year due to the cold that comes in Mid October.
Tasty and huge tomatoes!
I live on the Olympic Peninsula and grew these tomatoes in the greenhouse. The tomatoes were huge! I agree with others that said the plants are willowy and not particularly hardy. I don't think they would have done as well outside of the greenhouse since we tend to have cool summers here.
My all-time favorite
Always a favorite-I grow at least12 of these hearty tomato plants per year, and have been my favorite for 8 years running. Such a heavy producer for these gentle giants! They're perfect for sandwiches and canning and saucing both, making them an all around hit.
Great slicer, better sauce tomato. Wonderful intense tomato flavor without bitterness.
Normal growth rate and care complexity. Very good flavor, texture and density. Does not hold well after harvest. Wonderful heirloom. Will be a mainstay from now on.
If I could grow only one tomato, this would be it
by Linda M.
I've grown Italian Heirloom from SS for two years in zone 8a Texas. This is a fabulous tomato with a rich, classic tomato flavor. Despite challenging north Texas weather last year, my IH plants were disease-free and very nearly pest-free. The fruits, averaging a pound, were large and meaty and ideal for slicing. New growers should be aware that IH plants have a quirky appearance. It has a willowy appearance caused by naturally drooping stems and narrow leaves with a slight curl. This can lead gardeners to mistakenly conclude that something is wrong with it. Few large-fruited tomatoes do well in this area, but IH excelled even in an unusually hot, dry year (with supplemental water, of course). I suspect it's because those narrow, curly leaves reduce water loss. But, they provide less shade for the fruit, so I leave more stems when pruning IH than I do with other varieties. I gave my extra seedlings to neighbors, who raved about the tomato and asked for more this year.
The Best Sauce Ever
These tomatoes make the absolute best sauce I’ve ever had. I just slightly stew them, they have this amazing delicate, fresh and balanced taste. Like the amazing fancy Italian resto, but it’s your house! :-)
I agree the seedlings are sensitive to overwatering. So perhaps take good care with your seed start mix, and avoid those moisture retention soil mixes for sure. I do take care when hardening them off. They may not look too robust, but I think they catch up in the field. Also, I would recommend fertilizing a few times throughout the season once planted. Chicken manure worked well here.
So in short, these are kinda fussy but oh so so yummy if you manage to grow them.
Proceed with Caution
I agree with the reviewers from a few years ago. Last year and (so far) this year, this variety is struggling. The stalks and branches are thin and wispy. They are planted next to Cherokee Purple, Gold Medal, Roma, and cherry tomatoes - that are hardy and thriving. I live in Zone 5 (outside Chicago) and I think I need to pull these and put something else in it's place. It's incredibly disappointing.
I am growing Italian Heirloom Tomatoes in our make-shift greenhouse in Southwest Washington. I started the seeds inside in February (a little earlier than I plan to start them next year). This is my first experience growing tomatoes from seeds. They are doing amazing. I have had no problems with disease and its exciting to see so many tomatoes on the plant.