A Brandywine Red tomato could be grilled as part of a hearty breakfast, sliced for a sandwich or turn your crop into passata or a sauce…however you choose to enjoy them you will discover the aroma and rich flavour that only an heirloom variety can supply, simply out of this world. Do make sure your supports are sturdy as these produce gorgeous large heavy fruits that ripen successively so you can feast on one at a time (a bonus of indeterminate toms) whilst plants can also grow tall. These fruits are slow to mature and ripen, allow 10 weeks or more, but they are but oh so worth the wait. You can grow this variety outdoors if you want to do so. Price for 12 seeds
The history behind this variety
The Brandywine tomato is credited with bringing heirloom tomatoes back into popularity after the rise of hybridization in the twentieth century: they are popularly considered among the best tasting, if not the best, beefsteak available.
So how did this all come about – after mentions in seed catalogues back in the 1880’s the Brandywine line of tomato was considered extinct. Then in 1982, the Seed Savers Exchange received Brandywine seeds from a customer named Ben Quisenberry in Ohio.
Ben Quisenberry (1887-1986) was a gardening enthusiast who dedicated his life to saving heirloom tomatoes and has several excellent varieties to his credit. He received the Brandywine seeds from an elderly woman named Doris Sudduth Hill, from an Amish community in Tennessee, who could trace the seed line back at least 80 years in her own family. This variety received its name from Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
The early history cannot be verified with various seed companies claiming it as their introduction. What is clear is that from the 1980’s the characteristics of this tomato (flavour and aroma) quickly made it popular and the interest in old heirloom varieties was rekindled. Nowadays we understand the importance of old varieties as the keepers of diversity for the future. Brandywine may not be as quick to ripen as others, its fruits may well vary in both size and shape – not uniform from plant to plant, or indeed within a single plant – but then again it more than makes up for this through its story and flavour.