By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning writer and owner of Tomato Dirt, a leading online source of for growing tomatoes in the home garden.
The Brandywine tomato, a classic pink beefsteak slicing tomato, is credited with bringing heirloom tomatoes back into popularity after the rise of hybridization in the twentieth century. The variety has become one of the most popular home garden cultivars in the United States. It has been dubbed “the best-tasting tomato in the world.”
Brandywine’s history is a bit uncertain. What can be confirmed is this: Ohio tomato enthusiast Ben Quisenberry (1887-1986) brought the tomato to the attention of today’s gardeners by listing it in the Seed Savers Exchange in 1982.
Prior to that, Brandywine’s line cannot be unequivocally verified. Quisenberry reputedly received original Brandywine seeds fom Dorris Sudduth Hill, who claimed they had been in her family for over 80 years. In question is whether the cultivar was passed down as a heirloom (through Doriss’ Amish family in Pennsylvania) from a commercial variety, or if it was brought to the U.S. from overseas.
To further muddle the seed ancestry waters, Burpee claims to have introduced Brandywine to its customers in 1886 – nearly a century before the variety’s Seed Savers Exchange debut. Johnson and Stokes also listed a Brandywine variety in their 1889 catalog.
Check out different kinds of Brandywine seeds.
Additional strains with the Brandywine name have appeared in
the marketplace, including Cherry Brandywine, Glick’s Strain Brandywine,
Joyce’s Strain Brandywine, Liam’s Brandywine, and Pawer’s Brandywine, to name a
|Origin: reputed to be Chester County, PA, USA|
|Days to maturity: 80-100 days|
|Season: mid-season to late season|
|Foliage/habit: potato leaf|
|Fruit color: pink-red|
|Fruit shape/size: beefsteak, 12 ounces – 2 pounds|
|Taste: rich, flavorful|
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