Early Large Red, rare Heirloom
red 2.5" - 3" diameter, moderately ribbed, oval, 12 oz. tomatoes date back
to Colonial times and were the most widely - some sources say practically the
only - cultivated tomato variety in North America before the Civil War.
Sometimes listed only as Large Red, records indicate ELR was grown by the Shakers of Hancock MA in the 1830's
and was included in Fearing Burr's 1865 book, Field and Garden Vegetables of
The hardy indeterminate plants are very productive and need support to hold up all the tomatoes they produce. The sweet, richly flavored tomatoes are a bit tough skinned so they are best used for soups, ketchup, and sauces. Expect cracking of skin during extreme wet periods.
The cold spring and cool early summer 2013 temperatures delayed ELR first fruit maturity to 85 days. Non-hybrid tomato maturity dates are very unreliable. Even though most claim 80 days or so, 90 or even over 100 days is not unusual. If you really want fruit in a hurry, plant hybrids. Of course every rule has its exception. Year after year non-hybrid Mountain Princess has been a consistent early producer for me - usually even ahead of hybrids Early Girl and Champion.