Discover the Cherokee Purple Tomato Profile& Grow Guide

Discover the Cherokee Purple Tomato Profile& Grow Guide

The Cherokee Purple tomato is truly one of the most delicious heirloom tomatoes you can grow in your garden. With its rich, complex flavor, unique dusky purple color, and impressive production, it’s easy to see why gardeners keep coming back to this heritage favorite year after year.

In this detailed guide, you’ll learn all about the Cherokee Purple tomato so you can experience the joy of biting into one of these juicy, sliceable fruits straight from your own backyard.

An Overview of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple is an heirloom tomato variety that originated from seeds passed down by the Cherokee people in Eastern Tennessee. The tomato was introduced to the wider gardening community in the 1990s by tomato expert Craig LeHoullier, who named the variety after receiving the seeds from a friend.

These tomatoes are defined by their rich reddish-purple skin and flesh. The inside of the tomato has a deep crimson color with purple undertones. Cherokee Purple fruits are oblate in shape, meaning they are slightly flattened. The tomatoes tend to grow in small clusters on vigorous indeterminate vines.

When ripe, Cherokee Purple tomatoes weigh between 1/2 pound to 1 pound each. They have a sweet, complex flavor with rich umami undertones. The tomatoes are juicy with a pleasant firm texture when sliced.

Fast facts

  • Indeterminate vines can grow up to 6 feet tall
  • Fruits are 8-12 ounces with juicy, meaty flesh
  • The skin has a dusty purple-black color when ripe
  • The interior flesh is more reddish-pink when cut open
  • Complex sweet, smoky flavor with a rich texture
  • Better suited for eating fresh than cooking

Pros

  • Rich, complex flavor with a good balance of sweetness and acidity
  • Dense, juicy texture perfect for slicing
  • Beautiful dusky purple-black color
  • Indeterminate plants produce high yields
  • Does well in a range of climates
  • Resistant to cracking and disease

Cons

  • Requires staking/caging due to vining growth
  • Can develop blossom end rot if irrigation is uneven
  • Needs warm nights to thrive, not ideal for northernmost areas
  • Seeds need to be started indoors 6-8 weeks before transplanting
  • Plants need consistent moisture

The Unique History Behind Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

While the origins of many heirloom vegetables have been lost to time, there are some interesting tales about where Cherokee Purple tomatoes come from.

According to Craig LeHoullier, the person who passed the Cherokee Purple seeds on to him had received them decades earlier from a neighbor. That neighbor’s family had been gifted the seeds by Cherokee Native Americans nearly 100 years ago.

The Cherokee Purple tomato seeds were likely passed down within the Cherokee community for many generations before making their way to home gardeners across the country.

Today, the Cherokee Purple tomato remains a living legacy of the Cherokee people and their agricultural traditions. Growing and enjoying these heirloom tomatoes is a delicious way to celebrate this Native American cultural heritage.

Cherokee Purple Tomato Flavor and Texture

Biting into a Cherokee Purple tomato is a truly memorable experience. The fruits have a lovely balance of sweetness and acidity, with just a hint of smokiness. The flesh is dense and meaty with fewer seeds compared to other beefsteaks. When ripe, the tomatoes are tender but still firm enough to hold their shape beautifully on a platter or sandwich.

The flavor has been described by fans as “sweet, rich, and tangy” and “full of juice and tomato goodness.” It lacks the mealiness found in some heirlooms while having a more nuanced taste than most grocery store varieties. Whether sliced fresh or cooked, Cherokee Purples are satisfied with their robust, succulent flavor.

Why Gardeners Love Growing Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Once you bite into a Cherokee Purple tomato straight from the vine, you’ll quickly understand why gardeners rave about this variety! Here are some of the key reasons this heirloom tomato has achieved celebrity status among home growers:

  • Rich, complex flavor – Cherokee Purple is renowned for its full old-fashioned tomato taste. The balance of sweetness and acidity is near perfect.
  • Unique purple color – From its dusky peel to deep red flesh, Cherokee Purple offers gardeners a beautifully-colored slicing tomato.
  • Good yields – While not the most prolific, Cherokee Purple produces impressive yields of its large tomatoes. Expect bountiful harvests.
  • Meaty texture – These tomatoes have a pleasantly firm texture while still being juicy. Thick slices hold up well in sandwiches.
  • Versatile – Use Cherokee Purple tomatoes anywhere you’d use a red-slicing tomato. Their complex flavor shines through in any dish.
  • Family tradition – Passing down Cherokee Purple seeds is a wonderful gardening family tradition. The heirloom story makes them more meaningful.

For tomato lovers, growing the cherished Cherokee Purple tomato is a must. Once you taste this heirloom, you’ll be hooked!

Growing Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Growing Cherokee Purple tomatoes can be very rewarding, but does require some extra care compared to smaller hybrid varieties. Here are some key tips for success:

Starting Seeds or Buying Seedlings

You can start Cherokee Purple seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last expected spring frost. Use a seed starting mix and provide strong light to produce sturdy transplants. However, buying pre-started seedlings from a nursery is easier for beginners. Look for stocky, green plants about 4-6 inches tall.

Transplanting Outdoors

Only set Cherokee Purple seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Space plants at least 24-36 inches apart in full sun (minimum 6 hours direct sunlight daily). Choose a site with nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Boost nutrition with compost and fertilizers formulated for tomatoes.

Supporting Growth

As indeterminate vines, Cherokee Purples need staking or caging to support vigorous growth. Use 5-7 foot tall stakes and loosely tie main stems to supports. Or surround plants with cages at least 32 inches wide. Pruning is not required, but you can trim lower leaves and suckers for better air circulation.

Water and Nutrients

Cherokee Purples are heavy feeders. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer every 2-3 weeks after transplanting. They also need consistent moisture, around 1-2 inches weekly. Use drip irrigation, avoid wetting leaves, and mulch to conserve water.

Pest/Disease Prevention

Scout regularly for hornworms, aphids, flea beetles and other common tomato pests. Remove by hand or use organic sprays if needed. Prevent disease with crop rotation, spacing for air flow, and staking. Control weeds which compete for nutrients.

Ripening and Harvesting

Cherokee Purples ripen 70-80 days from transplanting, sometimes earlier. Harvest when fruits feel slightly soft and show dusky red-purple color. Enjoy immediately or store at room temp for a few days.

Saving Seeds

Cherokee Purple seeds can be saved from a fully ripe, fermented fruit. Scoop out gel, rinse, dry, and store seeds in a cool, dry place

How Cherokee Purple Tomatoes Taste and How to Enjoy Them

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are delicious when eaten fresh in salads, sliced on sandwiches, diced into salsa, or just popped straight into your mouth. The fruits are juicy with a nice firm texture, making them perfect for slicing and snacking.

Their well-balanced flavor also works wonderfully in cooked dishes. Try making a rustic tomato sauce with Cherokee Purples as the base, or add chunks to stews, soups, and chili. Roasting concentrates their sweetness – they’ll add great flavor to shakshuka, ratatouille, or scrambled eggs.

While their color dims somewhat when cooked, they still maintain more of their dark hue compared to red tomatoes. Let their dramatic shades shine by making Cherokee Purple bruschetta or tomato stacks drizzled with olive oil.

When making sauce or salsa, opt for brief cooking times to preserve their garden-fresh taste. Cherokee Purples also make stellar tomato jam, great for slathering on biscuits or grilled cheese sandwiches.

where to buy Cherokee purple seeds online?

If you’d like to grow luscious Cherokee Purple tomatoes this season, seeds and plants are readily available from several reputable sources:

Seeds generally cost $3 to $5 per packet for 30-100 seeds. Buying in bulk brings down the per-seed price. Plants purchased online or from local nurseries typically range from $5 to $15 each depending on size.

Conclusion

When you grow and enjoy your own Cherokee Purple tomatoes, you’re continuing a gardening tradition that dates back well over a century. The rich complexity of Cherokee Purple tomato flavor is a true treat straight from the vine. With proper care, you can experience abundant harvests of these heirloom beauties.

The Cherokee Purple tomato offers both cultural heritage and delicious flavor. Add this fabled heirloom to your garden this year. Soon you’ll know exactly why passionate gardeners have been passing down these seeds for generations. That first bite of ripe Cherokee Purple tomato will have you hooked


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Mohsin
By Mohsin

Hi, I’m Mohsin, creator of Tomato about website. I have over a two decade of gardening experience and I love helping others growing healthy tomatoes!


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