Hillbilly Tomato: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2008

Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2008

Hillbilly TomatoI grew up in hillbilly country. Cow tipping was not just a nightly pastime, it was a certified sport. I have often wondered if there was a difference between a redneck and a hillbilly. In my mind, hillbilly just sounds like a nicer person. Like Jed from the Beverly Hillbillies. Redneck are what you call a hillbilly when he is being an asshole.

So, when you have a tomato called Hillbilly, you hope that they mean it in that old fashion, barefoot and hayseed sort of way. Not the redneck sort of way.

This tomato at least comes by its name honestly, as it was developed a few centuries ago in West Virginia, the heart of hillbilly country. Nice people, few teeth.

This tomato was a rough one to judge on ripeness. Pictures on the internet range from deep orange with just a slight yellow marbling to yellowish-green with a slight blush inside. I went with my gut on this one.

The description from the company I got it from reads:

Hillbilly Tomato is an ancient heirloom from the hills of West Virginia. Fruits are large, mild with an unusual orange-yellow color streaked and mottled with red.

Hillbilly Tomato Sliced
The Beauty Pageant:

Size: Smallish beefsteak. There are a few larger ones on the plant, but 1lb is about all any of them are.

Shape: Flattened and bumpy. Rolling shoulders and rounded bottom.

The inside: Classic beefsteak. Thick central core with multiple chambers around the center. Super tight gel and very little of it. Makes for a pretty dry cut tomato.

Texture: Firm, but not unripe firm. A little grainy.


Off the Vine Tasting: Whoa! That is a surprising tomato. I had read that they were sweet, but it tastes like they are more a piece of fruit than a tomato. I bet in a blindfold test I could convince someone that they were eating very ripe peaches or melon. It is that sweet. And very unexpected. The gel is sour, but there is so little gel that it has little impact on the flavor.

Sliced and Salted Tasting: Salt just makes it sweeter. Almost too sweet.

Cooking Thoughts:This is a nice slicer and looks spectacular on the plate. Certainly a tomato you can serve as a side dish. Your dinner guests will be surprised as well. This is defiantly a tomato that will cause their tastebuds to do a double take. Not sure how much many people would like this on a sandwich though. Tomato taste is not really strong and you would have a completely different flavor combo. There is one thing that this tomato would be fun for and that is to serve with or as a dessert. It is sweet enough to easily replace fruit, so it might be fun to make a pie or serve with cheese.

Growing Notes:
Productive plant. Pretty self contained.

Will Hanna grow this one again:
Maybe. The flavor is pretty cool and I can’t wait till the next one is ripe so I can serve it to my kids. The problem is that the flavor is so sweet and so surprising that it will be difficult to do anything with it other than serve it as a “gee-whiz” sort of side dish.

16 thoughts on “Hillbilly Tomato: Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2008
  1. Halley on

    I always thought “hillbilly” referred to someone from the hills (specifically, Appalachia), while “redneck” referred to someone from the lowlands. A hillbilly listens to bluegrass (played with a banjo), pronounces “window” as “wind-uh”, and lives in the deep woods. A redneck listens to country (played with a guitar), pronounces “window” as “wind-er”, and lives in the open countryside.


  2. My grandpa is from West Virginia and Hillbilly Tomatoes are a staple in his garden, as well as his Hillbilly Beans.

    Brings back memories, I had completely forgotten about this tomato. Maybe I’ll grow some next year.


  3. My Hillbillies are so close to ripe now, you post is making me impatient.
    I don’t remember them being incredibly sweet. I will have to pay more attention this year. Mine are mostly red. My aunt’s (who I got the seeds from) were almost completely green. And here yours are yellow. What a chameleon of a tomato.


  4. John on

    regarding cow tipping….. Do the cows have to report their tips to the IRS ?


  5. This is interesting! I wonder if sweetness is more commonly found in the yellow tomatoes? I grew an indeterminate cherry tomato called “Sweet gold” this year. It was yellow, mid-sized for a cherry tomato, and unbelievably sweet. My husband says it even lacks “tomato flavour”. I like it and my toddler goes nuts for it.


  6. My neighborhood (once the site of the Armadillo World Headquarters) has long been proud of the fact that South Austin is where longhairs peacefully meet rednecks over a cold brew, the famous longnecks of Lone Star Beer.

    The Hillbilly tomato sounds yummy. Thanks for another review.


  7. Hanna on

    Halley & M Sinclair Stevens – I believe that these two terms must have different meanings depending on where you come from. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. Sometimes here and sometimes there.

    Susy – This tomato more than any other I have grown has elicited the comment “My grandpa used to grow those…”, which I take to mean that these were a very good tomato that has just been too long lost.

    PlantingOaks – I am guessing that this is a tomato that is very much influenced by the ground taht it grows in. Based on your comments and others I see on the internet, I think they can change color and sweetness depending on the soil composition.

    Mrs. Greenhands – The are tasty!

    John – I belive their only required to report 3% of their income as tips.

    Gardenista – Some yellows are sweeter while some are less tangy. Typically, yellow have less acid, so this might make ways for a sweeter taste.


  8. I love your blogg and have today linkt to this thread (that was a direct translation of from sweadish. Im not sure if its the propor english term) Just wanted you to know when the link in the wery strange language apperes that its all praise… If possible I´d like to use the head of your blogg or the foto of the H-tomato. But only with your permission.

    I wonder if it´s possible to mailorder for seeds for for example this tomato? Oh now I remeber there is a link in the beginning, just before the discription – isnt there? Sorry, I´m in bed with a cold and a little blurry right now

    Thank you wery mutch for god reading on the other side of the Atlantic!


  9. I’m so glad you grew this one. I’m hoping mine will produce before the weather turns cold. I’m looking forward to it. (had soil issues with my transplants. bought Edna’s Best soil thinking it would be just as good as my tried and true soil I use from groworganic.com. Nope! Nothing grew!) For $12.99 a bag you can buy crap soil!


  10. Jackie on

    I lived in West Virginia several decades ago…I remember growing wonderful yellow tomatoes from local seeds, but I can’t recall what they were called (I do remember the half-runner beans and bloody butcher corn though!). The name “hillbilly” doesn’t ring a bell… But one of my favorite things to do with these yellow tomatoes was to make tomato butter (actually more of a tomato preserve) from my mom’s recipe (a Pennsylvania gal, but hillbilly at heart):
    4 lb tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
    1 lemon, sliced thin
    5 cups sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks
    Optional–1 tbsp cloves and/or several chunks of ginger root
    Cook in a large pot until clear and thick, then seal in sterile jars.
    If I ever get another good crop of yellow tomatoes, I will make this again…Mom always used red tomatoes, but I thought the yellow ones made exceptionally good preserves!


  11. This will be interesting ..this tomato is on my just ordered lot of seed for this summer here in australia..I hope it grows well ..it looks beautiful …cant wait .


  12. Chris on

    The term redneck is from the Coal Mine wars in West Virginia
    The Coal Miners wore red scarfs around their necks to identify each other from the Coal Operators men during the Coal Mine wars in WVA

    I still live in WVA we are not all rednecks or Hillbillies


  13. I thought my Hillbilly was sort of bland although a nice shaped tomato on a good plant. Maybe I will have to pick one for lunch tomorrow and reconsider.


  14. Pam on

    I am growing yellow hillbillies for the first time this year. In fact I just ate my first one today. It is a mild tomato but I like that. I also liked it on a BLT. The plants are very healthy. I have five plants and have a average of about 13 tomatoes on each one. Not bad for a heirloom I think. I’ll definitely plant it again next year.

    That tomato preserve rrescipe sounds good!


  15. Joan on

    I looked up Hillbilly tomatoes on google, not expecting to find anything….lol
    My husband brought in our first hillbilly tomato from the garden today and we will be eating it tomorrow.
    It is beautiful. Gold with red in places and huge, as big as a beefsteak.
    It has several green protuberances on the bottom???
    Did your’s have those? I asked him what they were and he said more tomatoes. But of couse he was just kidding.
    He doesn’t know either what they are.


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