Brandywine Tomato: Facts And Growing Guide

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Because of its unmatched flavor, Brandywine tomato has become one of the most popular heirlooms in North America. If you want to grow it yourself, there are a couple of things you should definitely take into account.

In this article, you’ll find all the relevant and useful information about Brandywine tomatoes—history, types, growing guide, and preparation tips.

Table of Contents

What Is A Brandywine Tomato?

Brandywine tomato (botanical name: Lycopersicon Lycopersicum ‘Brandywine’) is one of the most popular varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the United States.

Brandywine Sudduth (a pink variety) is said to be one of the tastiest tomatoes in the world

The “classic” Brandywine tomato has distinctive potato-leaved foliage, bears pink or red beefsteak-shaped fruits with pumpkin-like ridges, usually in the one-pound (0.5 kg) range, that can grow as large as 1.5-2 lbs (0.7-0.9 kg), which have legendary, excellent flavor.

Although Wikipedia mentions only the pink substrain, Brandywine tomatoes have several other substrains and selections with colors of red, yellow, or black (dark purple tones) with varying sizes and tastes.

The Brandywine tomato family comprises indeterminate (vining) varieties, which are late-season plants with 90-100 days to maturity (from transplanting to harvest).

The name “Brandywine” allegedly comes from the Pennsylvanian Brandywine Creek, most probably given in the 1880s.

Short History Of Brandywine Tomato

First off, it seems that there is no single variety that can be called “the Brandywine”, although most tomato enthusiasts would agree that the “point of reference” is the potato-leaf, large, pink-fruited indeterminate heirloom variety.

Potato leaf of Brandywine tomato

The first description of a Brandywine-type tomato, called Turner’s Hybrid, appeared in the Burpee seed catalog in 1885.

Another record is from 1889 when the name Brandywine (a red-colored Johnson & Stokes variety) actually appeared in an advertisement in The Ohio Farmer, a weekly agricultural newspaper.

Old Burpee catalogs from the 1890s state that Brandywine tomato was “Introduced in 1886 by W. Atlee Burpee & Co., Philadelphia”.

What happened before that time, nobody really knows. Different stories are circling, such as

  • Brandywine originally came from overseas;
  • it was a family heirloom from Ohio;
  • it was first grown by the Amish over 200 years ago.

On the other hand, since the late 1800s, a lot has happened around the Brandywine tomato family, which means that a good number of substrains have been created through selection and cross-breeding, especially from 1982 when Brandywine was included in the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) collection.

Substrains Of Brandywine Tomato

Craig LeHoullier, a well-known tomato enthusiast, collected all Brandywine seed listings from 1982 until 2000. In 2000 there were over 140 different substrains and selections, out of which approx. 50 different pink substrains were listed.

If we search for “Brandywine” in the online SSE catalog, we find some 100 listings from different US states, out of which the top 3 are Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

Now let’s take a look at some of the best-known substrains by color.

Pink Brandywine Tomato

It’s regarded as the classic Brandywine tomato having superb flavor. Some say it’s the best-tasting tomato in the world with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

The most famous pink Brandywine is the Sudduth Strain Brandywine, which came from a Tennessee woman, Dorris Sudduth Hill—she gave some seeds to an Ohio farmer, Ben Quisenberry, who started growing them and donated seeds to Seed Savers Exchange in 1982.

Since then this legendary heirloom has been grown all over the US.

Additional pink, potato-leaf substrains are also available, but many believe that the Sudduth Strain’s flavor cannot be matched.

Red Brandywine Tomato

A rather small-sized fruit, but a phenomenal flavor…

The first records of Brandywine back in the late 1880s were in fact of Red Brandywine types, named Turner’s Hybrid, Mikado, and Brandywine.

In 2000, there were 22 listings of Red Brandywine in the SSE Yearbook, now we can find some 15 Red Brandywine (including Brandywine Red) substrains in the online SSE catalog database.

Red substrains are indeterminate, most of which have regular leaves (not potato type). They provide medium to high yields, medium to large fruits (up to 2 lb / 0.9 kg—e.g. Mikado Tomato), and have a nice flavor.

Yellow Brandywine Tomato

There may have been Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes even at the end of the 1800s, e.g. one that was called “Shah”, a yellow-colored type of Mikado.

Today, there are about 16 SSE substrains (listed on the SSE website) and who knows how many types have never been listed…

Mr. LeHoullier describes the “regular” Yellow Brandywine as an indeterminate, potato-lief, golden-fruited strain with large, meaty, intense-flavored fruit.

Black Brandywine Tomato

This strain is likely to be unstable as it has both potato and regular leaf varieties with variable yields and flavor.

Some 16 substrains are included in the online SSE database, some are called “True” or “True Black”, which are in fact mostly maroon-purple colored.

Purple Brandywine Tomato is also mentioned here and there, which is a stable cross of Brandywine and Marizol Purple, with 3-inch dark pink to purple colored fruit with excellent flavor.

What Does A Brandywine Tomato Taste Like?

The best-tasting strains of Brandywine tomatoes are

  • Pink Brandywine (especially the “classic” Sudduth Strain); a balance of acid and sweetness, a balanced rich, succulent, old-fashioned home-grown tomato taste
  • Red Brandywine is full of flavor, juicy and tangy, with low sweetness, but has a well-balanced fine flavor
  • The golden-orange Yellow Platfoot strain has a rich tomato flavor and intense sweet flavors balanced with a slight tartness

Please note that tomato flavor can very much depend on climate, soil, and other growing conditions. Additionally, tasting can be quite subjective as each one of us has different sensory qualities and capabilities determined by our taste buds, brain cells, etc.

What Are Brandywine Tomatoes Good For?

Brandywine tomatoes are best when served fresh so that their excellent flavor can be enjoyed to the fullest. They are great in sandwiches (e.g. BLT) and hamburgers, also in salads sliced or diced, and are fantastic with cheeses (e.g. cheddar, mozzarella).

Nice sandwich with some ham and cheese and a thick slice of tomato

You most probably won’t find them in a grocery store because they are not really “commercial”. They may ripen unevenly and develop into irregular shapes and they’re difficult to transport and store without damaging the fruits.

You have a much better chance to find them at farmers’ markets. Don’t be discouraged by some splits or spots, they will still be very likely good for eating.

However, don’t wait long before you eat or process them, you can sauce, can, pickle, or dry them—they retain their superb flavor so that you can enjoy them even in the winter.

On the health side, Brandywine tomatoes are rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, potassium, and also in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants in the human body.

Are Brandywine Tomatoes Good For Sauce?

Some meaty types can make nice sauces. These are typically some Red and Yellow strains.

You can even prepare a fresh sauce by just chopping the fruits and cooking them without peeling. The skin, by the way, can add some extra nice flavor and it’s also nutritious containing fibers.

Are Brandywine Tomatoes Hard To Grow?

Brandywines are not the easiest types of tomato to grow, so if you’re a beginner, don’t start with Brandywines.

They need special care and attention, so it’s recommended that you grow some not-so-tender varieties of tomato for 2 or 3 seasons before you give your Brandywine a try.

For example, because of their extensive foliage, you need to prune them, provide proper support (e.g. a large, sturdy tomato cage), and pay attention to them all through the 80-100 days until they reach full maturity.

Additionally, it is said that Brandywines can perform very differently year by year.

According to the Cooperative Extension Service, the Brandywine tomato variety is

“…low-yielding, tends to ripen unevenly, has green shoulders, catface and to crack badly if rainfall catches the ripening fruit at the wrong time.”

Of course, if you, as a beginner, have an insatiable hunger for your home-grown Brandywine paired with “super motivation”, go ahead!

How To Grow Brandywine Tomatoes?

Seeds Or Seedlings?

You can start growing your plants either by planting seedlings, sowing seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before transplanting them outside, or sowing seeds directly into garden soil if it’s warm enough for germination.

Starting With Seedlings

If you’re a newbie gardener, it’s much easier to buy Brandywine seedlings and plant your tomato plants when there is no risk of frost anymore.

Where to buy seedlings: You can buy locally at a garden center or online from different nurseries.

How to choose seedlings:

  • Health: choose the ones that look healthy (not yellow, light green, wilted, or leggy, with no spots on leaves)
  • Container size: don’t buy a seedling that has a very small container compared to its size (or else the roots may be entangled); the plant should be shorter than the double height of the container
  • Root color: the roots should not be brown, but cream or tan white; you can check the color of the roots by sliding the plant out of the container

Starting With Seeds

You can start your Brandywine plants from seeds, basically in two ways.

1. Sowing seeds into containers indoors

  • Start planting seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before transplanting (mostly in March, depending on your hardiness zone). You can use seed trays, small plastic pots, yogurt containers, or any other container, just make sure that there is a hole in the bottom so that they can drain.
  • Fill the container with a seed starting mix, potting soil, or pure vermiculite (don’t use garden soil; it’s not loose enough and may be infected).
  • Sow 2-4 seeds and then put a thin layer (1/4 in or 0.5 cm) of starting mix, potting soil, or vermiculite over the seeds. Don’t sow deeper than that.
  • Water it gently and keep the mix moist all the time. Put the container in a bright window (a greenhouse is even better) or under growlights that are placed not farther than 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) above the container. After 3 weeks, raise the lights 5-6 inches above the seedlings. Make sure the seedlings get 14-16 hours of light daily.
  • You can cover the container with a translucent plastic cover or dome to help germination; remove it a couple of days after germination. The ideal temperature for germination is 70-80 °F (21-26 °C).
  • After germination, turn the containers daily if you grow your seedlings on a window sill to keep them from bending toward the light.

If you started your seeds in smaller containers (e.g. seed starter pots or trays), you need to transplant them into larger ones.

Some gardeners suggest that you should do it only after the tiny plants have set a pair of true leaves, but, as they may already have developed deeper roots, this can cause a bigger shock to the plants.

Therefore it’s better to transplant the small seedlings as soon as they have developed their cotyledons or seed leaves.

Just loosen the soil under the tiny plant with a small stick or pencil, hold the leaves (not the stem), gently pull it out, and transplant it into a larger pot.

2. Sowing seeds directly into the garden soil

  • You can sow the seeds directly into garden soil as soon as soil temperatures go above 68-70 °F (20-21 °C). Don’t sow them deeply, 1/4 in (0.5 cm) is enough, and water them gently, be careful not to wash away the seeds. If heavy rains are expected, protect the sown seeds or tiny seedlings with a plant cover or fleece.
  • To reduce the risk of diseases, choose a patch that you haven’t used for growing plants belonging to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), e.g. potatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes in the last 2-3 years.
  • Also make sure that this area receives at least 8 hours of sunshine and is not exposed to heavy winds, especially from the north. (I’ll cover soil requirements in a bit.)

Some experienced gardeners say that plants sprouting from directly sown seeds can grow faster and then bear fruit just at the same time as plants that developed from seedlings. And they may even have a larger and deeper root system because they were never exposed to the shocks of transplantings.

What Is The Best Month To Plant Brandywine Tomatoes?

It depends on where you live.

For many gardeners in the US and Europe, April and May are the best months to plant Brandywine tomato seedlings.

In the southern territories, e.g. the Carolinas or California, you can most probably plant your tomato plants sometime during March and early April.

However, it is your local climate that determines the proper planting time—it can vary even within short distances, especially if terrain conditions diverge, e.g. a cold valley open to the north vs. a south-facing slope surrounded by a forest.

When to plant tomato seedlings outside?

You should plant at least a week after the average last spring frost date to eliminate any risk of frost damage.

Even after that, frosts may occur during the night, so keep an eye on the forecasts and if night frosts are predicted, cover your plants with a frost cover or take them inside if they are in containers.

It’s best to wait for the time until night temperatures are warmer than 50 °F (10 °C).

Also, you can ask at local garden centers or talk to some experienced gardeners in your neighborhood who grow frost-sensitive vegetables.

You can check the average last frost dates in the spring for your location here (US and Canada): Frost Dates on almanac.com

For UK data, visit this site: UK Last Frost Date Map

By the way, let’s not forget about our friends living in the southern hemisphere (which, after all, is the birthplace of the tomato, i.e. the Peruvian and Chilean Andes):

Australian and New Zealand Frost Dates

Frost Dates Map for Argentina

First Date of Frost in South Africa

If you sow directly into the garden soil, you can start about 2-3 weeks before the last frost date. Even if some frost was forecasted after sprouting, you can easily cover your tiny seedlings with a frost cover.

Best Soil For Growing Brandywine Tomatoes

The soil or growing medium is a crucial factor for growing Brandywines successfully. They require slightly acidic soil having a pH of approx. 6.2–6.8.

The soil or growing medium should be well-drained and rich in nutrients.

You can check soil drainage by digging a 1-1.5 ft (30-50 cm) deep hole and filling it up with water. If water drains within an hour, but not within minutes, which is too fast, it’s OK.)

Aged compost, made up of pure organic matter, is a great organic fertilizer that contains all the key nutrients, i.e. NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) as well as important minor nutrients such as sulfur, calcium, and magnesium.

You can also fertilize your soil with commercial organic fertilizers which are low in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and potassium (with an NPK proportion of 5-10-10, indicated on the bag or box).

Apart from nutrients, soil texture is also critical. The roots need an evenly moist environment and air (oxygen) so it’s best if the soil conserves water, but also gives “breathing space” to the roots.

If you want to grow your plants in containers or raised beds, it’s worth checking out the growing mix used in Square Foot Gardening, called “Mel’s Mix”. It contains 1/3 part aged compost, 1/3 part vermiculite, and 1/3 part peat moss. It’s rich in nutrients, retains water, but also drains well while providing air spaces, which is essential for the root system.

You can use perlite (cheaper, but not as good) instead of vermiculite and coconut coir if you don’t like peat moss (e.g., for environmental reasons).

Good quality, fertile topsoil (50-60%) mixed with a lot of compost (40-50%) — including several components, e.g. composted grass clippings, cow manure, leaves, plant-based kitchen waste, eggshells, cardboard, etc. — is a good option as well because compost by itself retains water well and also loosens the soil letting the roots “breathe”.

Soil temperature

The ideal soil temperature for germination is 70-80 °F (21-26 °C), the minimum soil temperature is 60 °F (15.5 °C), and cold soil is not suitable for germination.

Since tomatoes are originally tropical plants, warm soil temperatures for further dynamic growth are favorable.

When spring comes, soil warms up more quickly in containers and raised beds, which may be a good head start when sowing seeds or planting seedlings.

Growing Brandywines In Straw Bales?

You can also grow your Brandywine tomato in straw bales. Tomato expert Craig LeHoullier remembers

“…it really loved growing in the straw bale in my Hendersonville yard.”

So why not try it? There are many different approaches to straw bale tomato growing, but here’s a simple method:

  1. Put your straw bale in a sunny spot, cut side on top.
  2. Create cavities in the bale and pour organic nutrients (e.g. bonemeal, blood meal, fish emulsion) into them
  3. Water the bale for the next 18-20 days and then check if it’s still warm in the middle of the bale (if it is, wait a couple more days)
  4. When the bale has cooled, you can start planting (2 plants/bale): make holes for each seedling 2 ft (60 cm) apart, 4 in (10 cm) deep, cover the exposed roots of the seedlings with compost or growing mix, plant the seedlings, and water them well
  5. Keep the bale moist by watering it regularly, however, don’t overwater, otherwise, you’ll wash away a lot of nutrients; 1 gallon per day per bale is enough at the beginning of the season and as the weather gets warmer, increase the amount of water; feed the plants with dilute fish emulsion or compost tea every 2-3 weeks

Planting Your Brandywine Seedlings Outside

Once you have the optimal soil and air temperature outside, and your soil drains well, is rich in nutrients, and has a nice texture, it’s time to plant your Brandywine seedlings—or is it?

Have you hardened off your seedlings?

Don’t plant them outside right away from your window sill or greenhouse. Help them get accustomed to the “outside world”. For 1-2 weeks, take them outside for a couple of hours per day when the weather is nice.

Protect them from the wind and don’t put them in direct sunlight at first. Then, you can expose the plants to direct sun for the last days of the hardening-off period.

Time to plant them outside. Let’s see how to do it step by step:

  1. Remove the leaves along the stem and leave only the top 1 or 2 sets of leaves.
  2. Be sure the soil is moist and loose. Dig a hole in the soil with a trowel. Plant the seedling at least a few inches deeper than it was in the container. You can even bury the whole stem and have only the top sets of leaves sticking out of the ground. Firm the soil around the stem.
  3. Water the plant well, but make sure the foliage doesn’t get wet.
  4. Add a layer of organic mulch (e.g. grass clippings, 3-4 in / 8-10 cm thick) to prevent the soil from drying too quickly and to hold back weeds.
  5. Provide support right after planting. Use a stake or tomato cage 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) tall to give proper support to your vining Brandywine.

Tips:

  • You should leave a minimum of 18-20 inches (45-50 cm) between each plant. The plants need full sun to grow (min. 8 hours/day).
  • Don’t plant in soils that have grown tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplant in the past 2-3 years.
  • Any members of the Brassica family (cabbage and mustard family, e.g. cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi) should not be planted near tomatoes.

Planting in containers

If you plant your Brandywine in a pot or other type of container, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a pot, bucket, grow bag, or garden box of at least 5 gallons (20 l); more preferably 8-10 gallons (30-40 l)
  2. Sanitize the container: submerge it in a 1:10 bleach solution, then scrub the inside, rinse it, and let it dry in the sun
  3. Use a dry, soilless potting mix, fill up the container leaving some room at the top (a few inches)
  4. Dig a deep hole and plant the seedling in the dry mix (bury as much of the stem as you can, let only the top sets of leaves stick out of the growing medium)
  5. Water it well from the top, at the root, avoid getting the leaves wet
  6. Provide some support (e.g. a spiral stake or a wooden tomato stake driven into the ground just outside of the pot to provide strong support)
  7. Spread some mulch on top of the potting mix (e.g. grass clippings, shredded leaves)
  8. Place your plant in a wind-protected sunny spot

Watering Brandywine Tomatoes

Garden soil watering

The basic rule is that the soil should always be evenly moist at the root level—neither dry nor soggy. It’s OK, however, if the top 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of the soil are dry.

Check regularly if the soil or growing mix is able to provide a consistent rate of moisture.

You can do this by sticking your index finger into the dirt. If it comes out clean, it means the soil is dry so watering is needed. If it comes out dirty, the soil is damp (you can even feel it) so you shouldn’t water it.

Container watering

If you grow your tomatoes in containers or raised beds, more frequent, regular watering is needed. Here the growing mix loses moisture much faster, so daily watering is likely to be necessary for fully-grown plants.

It’s better to water early in the morning because the leaves that got wet will dry off by the heat of the day thus reducing the chance of foliar diseases, especially fungal infections, and also helping to avoid burning the plants.

During very hot days you may need to water twice a day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Wet foliage: avoid it as much as you can

Water the soil, not the foliage. Keep water at the base of the plants or water from the bottom if you use trays under the pots. This way you protect your tomato plants from diseases that may stick to foliage.

It’s a good idea to use a soaker hose or to install a drip irrigation system. If set properly, they won’t wet the foliage and keep the soil evenly moist all the time.

Mulching Brandywine Tomatoes

Mulching can help a lot in retaining soil moisture, suppressing weeds, preventing soil-borne diseases, and also, if it’s organic, feeding your plants. It saves you time and money.

Good mulching materials include grass clippings (chemical-free), shredded leaves, straw, and wood chips, or a combination of these. A 1-2 inch thick layer of organic mulch will perfectly do.

You can also use newspapers, paper mulch, or any other covers that separate the ground from the plants including biodegradable mulch film, black plastic mulch, landscape fabric, or even red plastic mulch, which can increase yields by 20% because it is a reflective much.

Sidenote: it is still a question whether biodegradable plastic has a negative or positive effect on soil in the long run. If you prefer the organic way (which we do), just use organic mulch and forget about plastic in any form.

How Tall Do Brandywine Tomatoes Get?

Brandywines are indeterminate or vining varieties, which means they will grow as long as something (e.g. frost, disease, storm, pest, or pet) kills them. During a 5-7 month growing season, they can reach a height of 8-9 ft (2.4-2.7 m).

Should I Prune Brandywine Tomatoes?

Since Brandywine tomatoes are indeterminate (vining) plants, pruning is strongly recommended to provide proper air circulation to avoid mildew, rust, and fungal diseases.

Pruning or suckering tomato plants includes three things:

  1. cutting off the side branches at the bottom of the plant;
  2. removing the suckers (side shoots) that sprout out at an angle of approx. 45 degrees from where the stem and a leaf stalk meet;
  3. topping the growing tips when the plant has reached the height of its support.

Some say that suckers take energy away from the whole plant and that’s why they should be cut off. Others say it’s not proven at all and suckers, producing flowers and fruit, can considerably increase yields.

Therefore, if you find a way to deal properly with large foliage and a good number of vines, e.g. with a wide and tall cage, and you can provide sufficient water and nutrients, you may not need to prune your indeterminate Brandywine plant at all.

However, if your space or support system is somewhat limited, without pruning, you’ll face the problem of having a “mess” of leaves, vines, and branches that you won’t be able to handle after some time.

brandywine tomato flowering
Brandywine flowering: it’s still 6-8 weeks until harvest time

How to prune my Brandywine tomato plant?

It’s not complicated at all, just follow these steps:

  1. Pinch off (with your thumb and index finger or a pair of sterilized garden shears or scissors) any side branches below the first flower cluster (wait until it appears)
  2. If you have a narrow space: remove the suckers that grow above the first cluster of flowers
  3. If you have a larger space, e.g. 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) plant spacing: keep 3-4 suckers from about 2 ft (60 cm) from the ground level and let them grow upward
  4. Keep pruning off the suckers that develop in addition to the ones you allow to grow
  5. Top the growing tips (the main stem plus the vining suckers) when they have reached the top of the support (stake or cage)

Pests And Diseases Of Brandywine Tomatoes

Brandywines are susceptible to many diseases, e.g. early blight, late blight, septoria leaf spot, bacterial spot, speck and canker, and soilborne diseases.

They can be afflicted by almost all tomato pests because they take so long to grow.

Use a minimum three-year rotation cycle. Apply mulching to prevent soil from splashing onto leaves during rainstorms. Provide good air circulation by staking vines, pruning, and spacing your plants properly.

To control harmful bugs, planting marigolds, basil, amaranth, borage, garlic, or nasturtium around your tomato patch or near your containers is a good idea.

Netting can be used to keep birds, bugs, and beetles out.

What Do I Do If One Of My Brandywine Tomatoes Has Been Attacked By Aphids?

Probably the simplest way is to give the aphids a sharp blast of water that knocks them off the plant.

You can also try spraying insecticidal soap or neem oil on affected areas.

Why Are My Brandywine Tomatoes Splitting?

Tomatoes split or crack because of sudden changes in soil moisture levels, i.e. improper watering. Make sure the soil is evenly moist at all times—water your plants evenly.

If you’re on holiday, ask someone to help with watering or use an automatic watering system, but be careful not to overwater.

When either circular or vertical cracking occurs, immediately harvest the fruits to avoid rotting. Place the split fruits on your kitchen counter and let them ripen. Throw the ones on the compost pile that start to smell bad.

When to Harvest Brandywine Tomatoes?

Most of the Brandywine varieties take at least 90 days to be fully ripe.

It’s not always easy to decide when a tomato is ripe. Brandywines may not ripen evenly and they can also be of different colors.

As a general rule, you can pick tomatoes at the earliest when the fruit has reached full size and the skin begins to change color, i.e. from green to red, pink, yellow, etc.

They will then ripen fully off the vine indoors at room temperature.

  • Pink Brandywines will be ripe when they develop a deep crimson pink color.
  • Red Brandywines first turn from dark green to light green, then to yellow, to orange or pale pink, and finally to red.
  • Yellow Brandywines turn from green to pale yellow and then to gold.
  • Black or purple Brandywines turn from green to deeper, dull purple tones and then become bright and glossy.

Brandywine tomatoes tend to crack, so it is better to pick them before they’re fully ripe. Also, if you notice any cracks on the fruits, harvest them immediately.

Some varieties may ripen unevenly, which means that the shoulders don’t develop pink, red, golden, etc. colors, but stay greenish, but the fruit is already ripe.

Try to find out beforehand if your variety is such a kind or else you will lose your fruits while waiting for them to ripen “all over” and end up with plumpy, inedible masses of fruit.

Saving Brandywine Tomato Seeds

You can save seeds from your Brandywine because it’s an open-pollinated heirloom tomato variety (has stable straits), which means that it will produce offspring with the same characteristics as the parent plant.

How To Save Seeds The Simplest Way?

  1. Scoop the seeds from the centers after you cut the ripe tomato in half. You can eat the rest of the tomato.
  2. Clean off the pulp around the seeds by putting and rinsing them in a sieve.
  3. Spread the seeds on a clean sheet of paper or paper towel.
  4. Let them dry inside for over a week.
  5. Peel the seeds off the piece of paper (don’t worry about the paper bits stuck to the seeds) and put them in a vial or paper envelope.

Store the seeds in a dry place. If moisture is present, your seeds will rot.

How To Prepare Brandywine Tomatoes?

Simple, but very tasty Brandywine sandwich

For many, the favorite table tomatoes of all time are Brandywines. Though not perfect-looking, they can have an unsurpassed, perfectly balanced taste.

Since they don’t have a long shelf life, canning, pickling, saucing, and drying are all recommended.

  • Slicing – Brandywines are large, meaty, and juicy, so they make excellent slicing tomatoes. They are perfect for burgers and sandwiches. One slice can cover a bun or a slice of bread easily.
  • Canning – Probably the simplest way to can Brandywines is to can them whole or halved. First, boil the whole tomatoes for approx. 60 seconds, drop them in cool or icy water and peel the skin off. Remove the core (you can also cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters if you prefer). Add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to quart-sized jars each and fill the jars with the tomatoes leaving 1/2 in (1.3 cm) headspace. Seal the jars and put them in boiling water in a large pot, simmer them for 90 minutes.
  • Saucing – You can cook Brandywines for sauce just by dicing and cooking them together with garlic, chopped onion, herbs, and spices. Tip: you can remove the seeds as they may make the sauce a little bitter.
  • Pickling – You can pickle your tomatoes: place them in a jar, add some dill and pearl onions, pour the brine (vinegar, water, salt, sugar, garlic, peppercorns) over them, seal the jar, and put it in the fridge.
  • Drying – You can slow roast slices of Brandywine in your oven at 250°F (120°C) for approx. 3 hours. You can use a dehydrator as well to dry the slices for approx. 6-8 hours at 140°F (60°C).

FAQ About Brandywine Tomatoes

Are Brandywine tomatoes hard to grow?

They are moderately difficult to grow. They require proper watering, staking or caging,  feeding, and a lot of sunshine. It takes a long time to reach maturity (90-100 days) so if you plant them too late, they won’t produce well.

What do Brandywine tomatoes taste like?

Many say (especially in the US) that Brandywine tomatoes are the tastiest tomatoes, finely balanced, not too tart, and not too sweet. Also, its texture is pleasing to the mouth.

Can Brandywine tomatoes grow in pots?

Yes, they can. Brandywine tomatoes grow well in large enough containers (ideally 10 gallons / 40 l) filled with a well-drained growing mix rich in organic matter and nutrients. Don’t forget to provide support as the plant grows (6-8 ft / 1.8-2.4 m high).

What are the best ways to prevent disease spread?

If you have the space, it is best to avoid planting where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplant have recently grown to avoid the risk of disease spread. If you use pots, replace the growing mix every year.

What are Brandywine tomatoes good for?

Brandywine tomatoes are great for making tomato sauce, salsa, and other dishes. They are also used to make ketchup, which is a popular condiment.

Will refrigerated Brandywine seeds grow?

Yes, they will grow if they have been kept dry (e.g. using silica gel or powdered milk) and haven’t started rotting. Before opening the container, make sure that they have come to room temperature. When sowing, the ideal germination temperature range is 70-80°F (21-26°C).

Summary

If you’re a novice gardener you should avoid growing Brandywines as your only variety. They need a lot of tender care and attention, so be sure to give them your full attention for the entire season.

However, if you love to eat tomatoes of amazing taste, it may well be worth the effort.

Provide your Brandywine plants with all the necessary things mentioned above, i.e. nutrient-rich and equally moist soil, balanced watering, warmth, a lot of sunshine, proper support, pruning, and pest and disease control.

In the end, you’ll have the chance to pick fruits that will raise your tomato eating standards to a whole new level. Keep going and enjoy your tomato journey!

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AUTHOR

I'm a keen hobby gardener. I love growing fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. I'm also a certified instructor of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.