Cherokee Purple Tomato

Cherokee Purple Tomato

Isn’t this just a pretty tomato? This is one of the new varieties of vegetables I’m trying this year in the vegetable garden. Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that actually has a Tennessee origin. In 1990 man in Sevierville, TN named John Green sent a package with an unnamed tomato variety to Craig LeHoullier in Pennsylvania. According to Green it was a century old variety that had originally been cultivated by the Cherokee people. You can read more about it at Wikipedia.

What drew my attention about the Cherokee Purple Tomato was the purple color of the tomato combined with a flavor that reportedly rivals that of the Brandywine.  I love Brandywine tomatoes so you can see why I sought out the Cherokee Purple. I just planted six seeds on Friday and hope to have them ready to plant outside in a few weeks. I don’t need all six plants, two will probably be fine for us and a few other lucky people may receive my leftover plants! I always like to raise few extras just in case something happens.  They take about 80 days to reach production age which will hopefully put a few purple tomatoes in our vegetable baskets by July.

Cherokee Purple Tomato Details

Maturity:70-80 days
up to 16 oz. tomatoes


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. I’ve never seen a purple tomato. I thought chillies are colorful; green, red, purple, orange … Tomatoes, too! I wonder if I’ll ever see a blue one …

  2. The deep purple color of that tomatoe is amazing. Can’t wait to see how this heirloom does in your veggie garden this season Dave!

  3. It reminds me of a plum! Or, the color of an eggplant! Kind of a mix between a fruit and a vegetable!!

  4. I’m trying them for the first time this year too Dave. I love Brandywines, looking forward to trying Cherokee Purple.

  5. When I saw the photo, I thought it was artificial. Looks very attractive and hope it tastes equally so!

  6. Dave,

    We grew Cherokees last year, maybe 6 plants produced a half bushel of some of the best tasting tomatoes out there! This brings to mind something that happened last summer. We visited the Carrboro Farmers Market and many farmers had bushels of Cherokees for sale from $2.50 to $3.50 a lbs, many were going to be composted because they could not sell all of them FRESH. Later that day we stopped in Whole Foods to get coffee, they had Cherokee Purples from California nearly 2000 miles away for $6 a lb. To think our local farmers can only sell to Whole Foods when produce is out of season in CA burns my britches, I’ve never shopped there since.

  7. Oh, I just got one of those to try this year along with a Brandywine. I’ve always wanted to try a Brandywine and the native nursery I visited in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago had both. I’m anxious to try them and see what they’re like and which one, if either, is my favorite.

  8. I grew these last year along with Brandywine. I found that it grew well and produced nice large tomatoes. The Brandywine was more delicate and it didn’t produce as much. Purple Cherokee is a great choice for an heirloom tomato.

  9. I grew these last year along with Brandywine. I found that it grew well and produced nice large tomatoes. The Brandywine was more delicate and it didn’t produce as much. Purple Cherokee is a great choice for an heirloom tomato.

  10. I guess these aren’t really known for making sauces but these make the BEST spaghetti sauce. We made some from an abundance of CP’s a friend gave us and it was incredible! Best sauce I’ve ever had, hands down. We’ve grown them and made/froze sauce every year since. Great on a frosty January night watching Soprano’s re-runs!

  11. Tyler,

    Thanks for the idea! In my mind if it tastes good it will make great sauce. I’ll be trying it for sure!

  12. I got beautifully-packed box of heirloom tomatoes from a supplier in New Jersey. It was what I needed. Unpacking heirloom tomato varieties developed in far-flung parts of the world offers a certain orientation.

  13. I have a great crop of Cherokees this year but have a couple of other heirlooms in the garden. I wanted to keep my Cherokee seeds now but am wondering if cross pollination occurred between the Cherokees and Brandywines and Mule Team. Any advice?

  14. Anonymous,

    I suspect that if your tomatoes cross pollinated together you could end up with a tomato even better tasting than before! That being said if you want a purebred Cherokee purple and are concerned about the cross pollination keep an eye out for a flower that hasn't opened yet. Then cover it with a bag. Once the flowers have opened pollinate it by hand using a Q-tip. Cover it again with the bag and watch for tomatoes to form. Once they do you can remove the bag. Be sure to mark which tomatoes are the hand pollinated ones since you don't want to get them mixed up. I would go ahead and save the heirloom tomato that you think may have been cross-pollinated as an experiment and see what grows!

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