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The Yellow Brandywine Tomato

Brandywine tomatoes are among the oldest and most popular tomato varieties grown in America, and the Yellow Brandywine tomato is no exception. This large gold-yellow beefsteak type tomato can weigh up to a whopping 2 pounds! These tomatoes have a robust flavor that is sweet and deliciously acidic. Also, the appearance can change from year to year, which keeps things interesting. Some years they may be smooth and other years there will be so many ridges or scallops that they resemble a pumpkin!

Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes are popular but aren’t available in every grocery store, so read ahead to find out how to grow your own delicious tomatoes at home!

Closeup of a yellow heirloom tomato.

History of the Yellow Brandywine Tomato

The Yellow Brandywine tomato can be traced back to 1991. Charles Knoy of Indiana is said to have cultivated this variety and sent some to Barbara Lund of Ohio. Lund then sent some to author and tomato expert Craigh LeHoullier, who then sent the seeds on to Johnny’s Select Seeds, a seed provider. Johnny’s Select Seeds is credited with getting the Yellow Brandywine tomato into the commercial agricultural scene, but they were only able to do that with the help of the other individuals!

Characteristics of the Yellow Brandywine Tomato

The Yellow Brandywine tomato is a very sturdy plant with dark green, large potato-leaves. It’s an heirloom, indeterminate variety that has a good yield of ribbed fruit with a yellow-orange skin and an orange interior.

Closeup of picked Yellow Brandywine tomatoes.

Ripening Season (early, late, etc.)

Yellow Brandywine tomatoes ripen between summer through early fall. Start growing from seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before the last frost. You can use a heating mat to warm the soil and speed germination.

Tomato qualities: tart, sweet, firm, etc

This is a sweet and acidic tomato that achieves a rich, balanced, old-fashioned home-grown tomato taste.

Tomato size

This variety of tomato plant produces 6″ diameter fruit, weighing between 1-2 pounds.

Child holding large yellow heirloom tomato.

Planting Zones

This plant grows well in zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. You can start them inside and move them out after the last frost. They will work well in a small garden or a large container like a barrel.

Size and Spacing

To start from seeds, plant seeds 1/4″ deep in moist, not soggy, soil in the spring. Once seeds break through the surface, water moderately. Once you’re ready to transplant, dig holes two-thirds as deep as the plant is tall at least 30 inches apart. Pinch off all starter leaves, leaving only the top 1 or 2 sets of leaves. Then spread the roots out into the hole, fill with soil, and water thoroughly.

View of row of tomato plants.

Pollination

Yellow Brandywine are self-pollinating, but the natural process can be disrupted in humid environments. If you’d like to help them along in the process, you can tap gently on the plants to help loosen and release the pollen, allowing it to fall onto the stigma. Do this midday when it’s hot and sunny.

Plant Care

Yellow Brandywines require regular tomato care such as providing structural support, fertilizing, and pruning.

Sunlight

Like most tomatoes, this variety does best with 12+ hours of sun, but it absolutely needs at least 6 hours of full sunlight.

Soil

Yellow Brandywines need well-drained and fertile soil. If you want a lot of fruit produced, use fertile clays and loams. If harvesting early is important to you, use a lighter soil that drains and warms quickly. This variety also does best in acidic soil with a pH of 6.5.

Water

Overwatering would be harmful to these tomatoes. To avoid getting the soil soggy, poke your finger into the top 2-3 inches of soil and only water if it feels dry. Water directly at the base of the plant instead of from above for best results.

Person watering tomato plants with a water can.

Fertilizer

Begin by mixing 1 tablespoon fertilizer with 1 gallon of water and then pour 1 cup of the mixture around each plant. Repeat that process 2 more times, once every 14 days. Once the plant is flowering, apply 1 tablespoon of fertilizer to each plant once every 4-6 weeks.

Pruning/Pinching

Contrary to how it seems, pruning and pinching off the suckers (stems that try to branch off where the stem and another branch meet) will produce a much healthier, more fruitful plant. Continue adjusting the branches in the cage as they grow.

Disease

Brandywines in general are a delicate variety of tomatoes and yellow ones are no exception. Watering at the ground deters most fungal infections.

Pests

Humans aren’t the only creatures who enjoy a garden fresh tomato. You can plant something like marigolds around the tomato patch to keep bugs away. Netting is also an option to protect these delicate fruits from critters who want to eat them before you get a chance to harvest! It could interfere with pollinators though, so you’ve got to weigh out your options and pick what is best for you and your plants.

When to Harvest Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes

Your tomatoes will be ready to harvest when they reach their full size (remember—that could be up to 6″ in diameter!), are a deep golden-yellow/orange, and are slightly soft to the touch. They’re typically ready to harvest around 90 days after planting.

Picked yellow heirloom tomatoes.

Common Uses For Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes

Due to its bright, unique color, the Yellow Brandywine tomato is a great addition to sandwiches, appetizers, and salads. It can also be put on burgers, added to pizza, or used in tomato sauces.

Platter of yellow tomato slices with balsamic vinegar.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

This tomato is a mix of sweet and perfectly acidic. It’s got that garden-grown tomato flavor that everyone loves!

Cooking

Since this is basically the quintessential tomato, it’s great to use in any place you need that tomato-y flavor. Think soups, sauces, pastes, etc. It’s unique color will make those normal tomato components extra unique.

An unbaked tomato tart made with heirloom tomatoes in various colors.

Eating raw

The Yellow Brandywine really shines when it’s raw. It’s juicy, flavorful, and brings a bright punch of color to every dish it’s in. A really fun way to use it would be to substitute it for a normal red tomato and add some mozzarella and basil to make an unexpected caprese salad!

Tomato sandwich ingredients.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Brandywine tomatoes are ideal for canning so that you can enjoy them all year long. Here is a great article all about how to get started canning!Yellow Brandywine tomatoes also freeze well! They’ll stay good in your freezer anywhere from 8-12 months.

This variety of tomatoes isn’t ideal for drying, but it can still be done if you’ve got an overabundance and are looking for another way to use them. Here is an article to explain how to do that!

Recipe Ideas

Baked tomato tart.

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Caprese Salad

BLT Chicken Panini

Tomato and Ricotta Salata Bruschetta

Fresh Tomato and Basil Pizza

Health Benefits of Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes

Yellow Brandywine tomatoes are a great source of vitamin D, vitamin A, and potassium. They also supply our bodies with huge amounts of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Yellow heirloom tomato cut in half.

Where to Buy Yellow Brandywine Tomato Plants or Seeds

You should be able to find seedlings at a local nursery and you can buy seeds straight from the original source, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, right here!

Where to Buy Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes

It’s difficult to find heirloom tomatoes in your typical grocery story and the Yellow Brandywine is no exception. You can always try your local farmers market, but your best bet to enjoy these delicious tomatoes is going to be to grow your own!

Wrapping Up the Yellow Brandywine Tomato

Overhead view of two heirloom tomatoes -- one yellow, one pinkish-red.

I hope that by now you can see that this is an excellent tomato to try your hand at growing! It’s delicious, nutritious, and something unique to add to your fresh tomato dishes. With each fruit being so large, your work will be well worth the effort. After reading all the information in this article, you’re set up for success and some amazingly delicious tomato treats in your future!

Have a tip about growing Yellow Brandywine tomatoes or have a favorite tomato recipe to share? Leave it in the comments section below! If you’re a bona fide tomato lover, click here to access our other tomato-related blog posts.