Heirloom tomatoes for Minnesota

I want to try some heirloom tomatoes next year, and am overwhelmed by the choice of varsities. I have asked gardening friends, searched the web, and read threads in this newsgroup. I'm narrowing down the field. Knowing that this is a religious issue <grin> I'd like feedback on what performed well for you last year, both in terms of production and taste. I live in southern Minnesota, so I'm looking for something that does well in this area.
Thanks for your thoughts.
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Steve Bonine said:

I'm a couple of state over, in south-east Michigan. I've tried *lots* of tomato varieties.
Three heirlooms that have joined my 'must grow' list:
Stump of the World (akin to Brandywine, but more productive for me)
Azoychka (early yellow beefsteak, pretty and not wimpy like some yellows )
German Orange Strawberry (medium to large oxheart-type, very meaty, lovely color)
The first two I ordered from Tomato Growers Supply (www.tomatogrowers.com).
'German Orange Strawberry' I ordered from Pinetree Garden Seeds (superseeds.com).
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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

I am 15 miles W of Pat, and let me mention that in a cool summer, cherry tomatoes and the ultra early ones perform better. I grow Yellow Pear and Stupice besides the regular tomatoes, but I am aware there are better cherry tomatoes than the former. Stupice is generally considered one of the best of the early season ones. Of course, neither compares to a good main season tomato tastewise but the kids like YP and Stupice is pretty good.
San Marzano paste tomatoes are superior in the paste category IMHO, long, dry and tasty, and we end up using lots of them fresh. The rest is blanched and frozen in ziploc bags. I mention all this because they are heirloom, and by now I am growing 50% San Marzano (and plan to increase). They make better fresh pasta sauce (raw tomato pasta sauce, SM blended with basil and garlic, is divine), salsa, bruschetta, tomato chowder, stew, vegetable medley, eggplant parmesan, anything cooked tomatoes, and of course in the winter you appreciate them even more.
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Thanks for everyone who has responded. I appreciate it.
simy1 wrote:

I can a lot of tomatoes, and because of that I like the paste type. I was very pleased with the non-heirloom Roma yield that I got last year; they came in a little late but were quite large and blemish-free. I'm assuming that the yield from heirloom paste varities will be lower and I'll need to have more plants . . . any SWAG as to how much difference I will see?
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Steve Bonine wrote:

I grew Romas for about 5 yrs before. They are smaller, good but not as good as San M., and the overall yields are similar to San M.. But Roma is more disease resistant. If you go the heirloom route, you know you may have to spray them a bit.
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simy1 wrote:

I am willing to trade off a bit of spraying to get better taste. If it's really better.
I'll plant some of my known-good non-heirloom plants too. I suppose that if the heirlooms yield really well, I'll be wondering what to do with all the tomoatoes.
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Steve Bonine wrote:

winter stews and winter chili, or winter pasta. Even though I winter garden and have all the vegs I need year round, few things warm the heart as a stew. I really need to freeze 150 lbs to get through the winter in comfort.
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Pat Kiewicz said:

I forgot to mention 'Anna Russian' which is a nice pink/red oxheart, available from Tomato Growers Supply.
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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

This suggests another question for you growers of heirloom tomatoes.
How many varieties do you grow in a given season?
Here I sit, both enjoying this task of picking varities to grow next year and grinding my teeth because there are so many choices. I figure that I need to narrow it down to somewhere areound five varities, and grow two plants of each.
Picking five is hard. Picking ten would be easier, but I don't need twenty tomato plants, especially since I'll plant a few of the non-heirloom varities for comparison purposes.
Settling on the ones that I like and that grow well is a several-season process. I figure I'll get it figured out just about the time I'm too old to garden . . .
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I'm in southcentral Alaska, so we're a couple of zones colder than you.
My two favorite/never-fail varieties are Stupice and Galina.
You can get seed for both at High Altitude Gardens.
Galina is a small yellow tomato and it will set a prolific crop.
Jan USDA Zone 3
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I am right outside of LaCrosse Wi. Amana Orange are my #1 choice. Seed Savers in Decorah Iowa has a wonderful program and a great online site. They have a wonderful philosphy and have never let me down. Good luck.
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