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Oxheart tomatoes, despite their seemingly novel appearance, have been a part of our culinary world for nearly a century. These mid to late-season tomatoes bear a striking resemblance to beefsteak varieties, both in terms of size and versatility. The name ‘Oxheart’ is derived from their unique shape, which mirrors that of a beef heart. This peculiar shape is a result of a mutation that elongates the blossom end (bottom) of the tomato.
The first appearance of Oxheart tomatoes is a topic of debate, but most sources trace their origin back to around 1925. Since then, a combination of accidental cross-pollination and deliberate breeding programs have given rise to a plethora of Oxheart tomato varieties. Their unusual shape and large size have made them increasingly popular among home gardeners seeking alternatives to regular beefsteak tomatoes.
What are Oxheart Tomatoes?
Oxheart tomatoes are a unique variety that has been gracing our gardens and kitchens for nearly a century. Named for their distinct shape, these tomatoes bear a striking resemblance to a beef heart. This peculiar form results from a natural mutation, causing the bottom of the tomato to elongate and taper.
These tomatoes are not just about their interesting shape. They are also known for their impressive size. Often compared to beefsteak varieties, Oxheart tomatoes can grow to over a pound, with some reaching the 2-lb and 3-lb mark.
But it’s not all about size and shape. Oxheart tomatoes are a feast for the taste buds too. They offer a range of flavors, from acidic to savory to slightly sweet, making them a versatile addition to any culinary endeavor. Their colors are just as varied, with shades of red, pink, yellow, orange, green, and even purple.
All Oxheart tomato varieties are indeterminate. This means they continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the season, requiring regular pruning and support. There are also dwarf varieties, perfect for those with limited space but still want to enjoy these delightful tomatoes.
Oxheart tomatoes are a fascinating blend of unique shapes, large sizes, and diverse flavors. A true gem for any gardener or cook!
Oxheart vs. Beefsteak: A Comparative Study
In terms of plant care or culinary use, Oxheart tomatoes don’t differ much from beefsteak tomatoes. However, Oxheart tomatoes are almost always massive and can compete with the biggest beefsteaks. If you’re a fan of harvesting huge tomatoes, Oxhearts are definitely worth a try.
Culinary Uses of Oxheart Tomatoes
In the cooking, oxheart tomatoes are highly adaptable. Because of their juicy flesh and few seed pockets, they make excellent slicing tomatoes for sandwiches and salads. Because of their high meat content, Oxhearts are good for processing and canning if you have an excess. Because they are not paste tomatoes, they may take longer to thicken into paste/sauce.
Because of their huge size, they are ideal for stuffing, and their scooped-out, meaty contents may be used to prepare sauces or added to recipes.
Growing Oxheart Tomatoes: A Step-by-Step Guide
Growing Oxheart tomatoes is a much like growing any other indeterminate, mid-season, or late-season tomato. The terms’mid-season’ and ‘late-season’ relate to when tomatoes can be harvested, not when they should be planted. Most Oxheart tomatoes require 70 to 90 days to mature.
Sow your Oxheart tomato seeds indoors 4 to 8 weeks before your normal last frost date, unless you have an extended growth season. Plant them outside after nighttime temperatures reach 50°F (10°C). Tomatoes, especially large types like Oxhearts, are heavy feeders, so apply an all-purpose fertilizer to your garden beds before transplanting. They will also benefit from fertilizer reapplications during the growth season.
Here’s a step-by-step instruction for growing Oxheart Tomatoes:
Step 1: Seed Sowing
Unless you have a long growing season, it’s recommended to sow your Oxheart tomato seeds indoors. This should be done 4 to 8 weeks before your average last frost date.
- Materials Needed: Seed trays or pots, seed starting mix, Oxheart tomato seeds.
- Process: Fill your seed trays or pots with the seed starting mix. Place the seeds on the surface and lightly cover them with the mix. Water gently but thoroughly.
Step 2: Seedling Care
After sowing, place the seed trays or pots in a warm location. A temperature of around 70-75°F (21-24°C) is ideal for germination.
- Materials Needed: Grow lights (optional), water.
- Process: Once the seedlings emerge, make sure they receive plenty of light. If natural light is insufficient, consider using grow lights. Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
Step 3: Transplanting
Transplant the seedlings outside after night temperatures consistently stay above 50°F (10°C).
- Materials Needed: Garden trowel, compost or well-rotted manure, all-purpose fertilizer.
- Process: Choose a sunny location in your garden. Prepare the planting area by adding compost or well-rotted manure. Dig a hole for each seedling, deep enough to bury the stem up to the first set of true leaves. This encourages the development of additional roots. Water thoroughly after transplanting.
Step 4: Ongoing Care
Tomatoes are heavy feeders, especially large varieties like Oxhearts. Regular feeding and watering are essential for healthy growth and a good harvest.
- Materials Needed: All-purpose fertilizer, water, stakes, or cages for support.
- Process: Apply an all-purpose fertilizer to your garden beds before transplanting. Reapply throughout the growing season, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Water regularly, aiming for a consistent level of moisture in the soil. As the plants grow, provide support using stakes or cages to prevent the branches from breaking under the weight of the tomatoes.
Step 5: Harvesting
The majority of Oxheart tomatoes mature around 70 to 90 days. When the tomatoes are completely colored and somewhat tender to the touch, they are ready to pluck.
- Materials Needed: Pruning shears or a sharp knife.
- Process: Cut the tomatoes from the vine using pruning shears or a sharp knife, leaving a small part of the stem attached. Handle them carefully to avoid bruising.
By following these steps, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of Oxheart tomatoes from your own garden. Happy gardening!
See Also: Male and Female Tomato Flowers Explained
Exploring Oxheart Tomato Varieties
Since the 1920s, many new Oxheart tomatoes have been discovered or developed through tomato breeding programs. Here are some popular varieties:
- Hungarian Heart (80 days) – Available at Baker Creek (US), Incredible Seeds (Canada)
- Upstate Oxheart (84 days) – Available at Hudson Valley Seed (US)
- Japanese Oxheart (80 days) – Available at Reimer Seeds (US), Renaissance Farms (US)
- Livingston’s Giant Oxheart (85 days) – Available at Victory Seeds (US)
- Livingston’s Yellow Oxheart (90 days) – Available at Victory Seeds (US)
- Dwarf Purple Oxheart (85 days; dwarf variety) – Available at Renaissance Farms (US)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the typical height of an Oxheart tomato plant?
Oxheart tomato plants can grow up to approximately 2 meters tall, similar to Beefheart tomato plants. They tend to yield a generous harvest when planted in a garden that receives ample sunlight and sufficient water, including rainfall.
Where did the Oxheart tomato variety first appear?
The Oxheart tomato variety was first discovered in Virginia, quite by accident. Since then, it has gained popularity across various countries and is now widely cultivated in numerous cities.
Why do some of my tomatoes have a pointed bottom?
If your tomatoes are large and pointed at the bottom, they are likely a meatier variety, similar to Oxheart tomatoes. Typically, tomatoes are round, and a pointed shape might be a result of exposure to low temperatures.
Can Oxheart tomatoes be used to make a good sauce?
Absolutely! Oxheart tomatoes are meaty and have fewer seeds, making them an excellent choice for a thick, delicious sauce. Their juiciness also contributes to a flavorful sauce.
Are Oxheart tomatoes known to be low in acid?
Oxheart tomatoes have a higher proportion of flesh or ‘meat’ compared to seeds, which generally results in lower acidity. They are known for their rich flavor, making them a great choice for salads, sandwiches, and more.
What does the Oxheart tomato taste like?
Oxheart tomatoes are renowned for their rich and robust flavor. They offer a balanced blend of sweetness and acidity, resulting in a refreshing and savory taste. Their meaty texture contributes to their substantial mouthfeel, making them a delightful addition to a variety of dishes.
Final Thoughts on Oxheart Tomatoes
Oxheart tomatoes are a great addition to any home garden with their unique shape, large size, and versatile uses. Whether you’re a fan of massive tomatoes or looking for a variety that’s different from the regular beefsteak, Oxhearts are worth considering. Not only do they offer a range of flavors, but they also provide a bountiful harvest throughout the season. So why not give Oxheart tomatoes a try in your next gardening season?
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