Large Red Tomato

Large red tomatoes, poplarware pincushions, Enfield seedbox
Large red tomato, poplarware pincushions, and an Enfield seed box.
Enfield seed box label
Label from the inner lid of an Enfield seed box

With 4 consecutive days of frost predicted, these tomatoes were harvested from the museum’s gardens last Friday.  They are an heirloom variety called Large Red, or sometimes Early Large Red.  This variety was known in 18th Century France, was eaten by George Washington, and grown for sauce by Thomas Jefferson.  Possibly the best known tomato variety in America in the first half of the 19th century, its popularity was boosted by inclusion in early gardening books and the fact that the Hancock Shakers were growing it in the 1830’s and it was included in the 1843 seed catalog from New Lebanon Shaker Village.  The pictured label is from an Enfield seed box dating to the 1880’s and Large Red are still one of the two varieties of tomato seeds offered for sale at that time.

One observer recently looked at these tomatoes and immediately asked, “Is this what the ‘tomato pincushion’ was fashioned after?”  So, we will let you decide.  Photographed with the tomatoes are two Enfield poplarware pincushions, let us know what you think

Detail of seed list from Enfield seed box label
Detail of the Enfield seed box label showing some of the seeds offered for sale including Large Red.