Cherokee Purple Tomato

Solanum lycopersicum

Grown by: Chelsea Askew in Marshall, NC

  • $4.00


Large, smooth, dusky-red fruits with a delicious blend of sweetness, acid, and a subtle smokiness. These heirloom plants provide plenty of 10-12 oz. tomatoes. This variety is reportedly from a family that had grown them for 100 years and that had received them from the Cherokee people. They were passed through a few hands to John Green of Sevierville, TN, who in turn shared them with tomato connoisseur Craig LeHoullier, a retired chemist from Raleigh, NC. In 1993, he shared them with Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, who introduced this dusky beauty to the world through their seed catalog. Cherokee Purple has been designated by Slow Food as an outstandingly tasty, culturally important, and endangered heirloom, and is listed in their Ark of Taste as a way to invite everyone to take action to help protect it.

Days to maturity: 80-90

Seeds per pack: 40

Planting / harvesting notes

Start seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost and transplant into garden well after the danger of frost. We recommend you prune the suckers that form in the crotches of the branches by the main stem. Water tomatoes at the soil level, keeping the leaves dry.

Seed keeping notes

Tomatoes are generally self-pollinating, though we isolate different varieties by 35-50 feet, in hopes that flying insects will not cross pollinate them unexpectedly. Tomato seeds are ripe when the fruits are ready to eat! Cut the fruit at the equator and squeeze or scrape out seeds from each of the cavities. In a cup or bucket, add a little water (1/2" is probably plenty) to your seeds and pulp to keep them from drying out, and allow them to ferment away from direct sunlight. Ideally, you will stir the concoction every day for 3-5 days. In the end, add more water to fill the vessel, stir one final time, and allow to settle. Pour off the floating material and then strain the seeds through a strainer. Sometimes, you will need to add more water and pour off the floating material several times until the water is clear and you can see the seeds sunken at the bottom. Squeeze dry the strained seeds in a towel, and then lay out to dry on a labeled screen or paper product in a ventilated place away from direct sunlight for a week or two.


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