If you can get your hands on a Cherokee Purple, they're absolutely delicious.
Is the vendor
calling it "blue"? I suspect it falls into what is generally known as the "Black Brandywine" category and even more general, what is known as the "Black Tomato" Cagetory.
The reason I ask is because I am involved with heirloom vegetables and there is no such thing as a 'blue brandywine' out there. The Seed Saver's Exchange Yearbook
comes out each winter and contains names and addresses of over 1000 members, and 19,000 listings for 11,450 unique varieties of heirloom garden vegetables and fruits. Of those, at least 6,000 are tomato varieties.
Posted here with permission from Craig LeHoullier:
"There are also nearly 10,000 listings in the tomato section of the USDA seed repository, though there are many duplications and experimental lines.
The key question (around the SSE) - are there 6000 or whatever true, actual, distinct tomato varieties? No way - there are lots of synonyms, misspellings, mix ups, etc.
The only tomato I know of with the name "blue" in the title is something called Blue Fruit (I think in the SSE annual), which appears just to be another "black" with a shady pedigree.
Colors with tomatoes:
The most well known tomato colors are "red" and "pink". The interior colors of both types are identical - the only difference is skin color. In red tomatoes, the skin is yellow; in pink tomatoes, the skin is colorless.
Then there is an array of orange/gold/yellow tomatoes, some of the color differences being quite subtle. Some yellow tomatoes are so pale as to be essentially ivory colored, which some people refer to as white. Some yellow tomatoes have variious amounts of red streaking, in and out. A very few tomatoes stay green when ripe - the skin color is either yellow, giving an amber appearance (such as the variety Evergreen), or colorless, making the ripe tomato look just like the unripe tomato (such as Aunt Ruby's Green).
The most interesting tomato colors are those that are quite dark - either a dusky rose/purplish color, or a chocolate mahogany orange color. These tomatoes are called, as a group, "black" tomatoes due to their relative darkness, but in truth, there is no truly black tomato. In tomatoes of this color category, the green coloring does not degrade when the red coloring appears, and the mixing of green and red lead to the dark coloration.
As far as Brandywine is concerned,
there are three authentic strains of Brandywine - Red (scarlet colored, regular leaf foliage, medium size fruit), Pink (referred to as simply "Brandywine" - large pink fruit on a potato leaf foliage plant), and Yellow (actually a rich gold color, large fruit, potato leaf).
Any other Brandywines out there, such as OTV and Black, are recent creations from accidental crosses followed by stabilizing a particular selection, or seed mixups. Black Brandywine does not even appear to have been stabilizied before releasing to the public, as there are various leaf shapes and fruit sizes from a packet of seeds."
Here are photos of tomatoes categorized as blacks:
Black from Tula
Black Sea Man
And one that is purple:
Craig LeHoullier's Brandywine History Document:
Heirloom Tomato Stories - part 1: Brandywine and company - what we know, and what we don't (one person's opinion)
Brandywine is a large fruited (most fruit in the one pound range), potato leaf, pink heirloom tomato that has taken on legendary status due to its potentially superb flavor. However, because many individuals have become involved with growing the variety, saving seed and sharing it with others, it seems as though numerous 'selections' and/or sub-strains are now 'out there' (some of which are inferior in flavor or performance), with no easy way of knowing which strain you have.
To further complicate matters, there are a number of cultivars with 'Brandywine' as part of their name - and some of these are showing variability, due to inadvertent crossing or selecting.
The following tomatoes all carry the name 'Brandywine':
Brandywine - indeterminate, pink fruited, large fruit, oblate shape, some green shoulders, some ribbed shoulders, some cracking, yield can range from how to relatively high, potato leaf, meaty, flavor from insipid to superb.
History: This is fairly certain: Brandywine is a tomato that found its way into the Seed Savers Exchange collection in 1982. It got there via an elderly (now deceased) Ohio gardener named Ben Quisenberry, who received the variety from a woman named Dorris Sudduth Hill - she stated that they had been in her family for over 80 years. I do not know where the Dorris came from - hence, where the tomato originated.
The key question is whether Brandywine was a family heirloom that arose from a commercial variety via selection, or was brought from overseas. The first tomato of a similar description to appear in seed catalogs is Turner's Hybrid (Burpee) or Mikado (Henderson); it is not clear as to whether these are the same tomato with one company renaming it, or two tomatoes that are very similar. Johnson and Stokes also introduced a variety called Brandywine (I think, in 1890), but it is described in an old Burpee catalog (1882) as a red tomato that is 'inferior to Matchless' (a red, medium large sized Burpee variety). I would love to see the pages from the three catalogs when Turner's Hybrid, Mikado and Brandywine were introduced to read the exact descriptions. (note: I need to do more research on the above and verify dates, since they do not make sense).
(Note that Carolyn and I obtained from the USDA seed collection several tomatoes with the name 'Mikado' included: Mikado (2 different accessions), Mikado Ecarlate, and Mikado Scarlet. The latter two seed samples, in limited grow-outs, yielded indeterminate, regular leaf plants with large red (scarlet) beefsteak type fruit of find flavor. Mikado, over several years of growing seeds from each accession, gave a mixture - regular leaf, large fruited red; potato leaf, large fruited red; regular leaf, medium sized pink, and potato leaf, medium sized pink. This indicates that the seed stock is not pure. No outcome resembled Brandywine in fruit size or flavor, however.)
Once word of the supreme flavor of Brandywine got around, it became the most popular of the heirloom tomatoes offered via the SSE yearbook, and even found its way into a number of mainstream seed catalogs, such as Stokes and Parks. What is clear is that at least one selection, sold by the defunct Tomato Seed Company of Metuchen, New Jersey, has consistently inferior flavor. The strain carried by Johnny's Selected Seeds came from a seed donation by me - I received the variety from Roger Wentling of Pennsylvania in 1986. He in turn received the variety from Ken Ettlinger of the Long Island Seed and Plant company. Ken received it from Ben Quisenberry, thus the JSS strain is the Quisenberry/Sudduth strain. There is an inaccurate relist of the variety in the SSE yearbook - because I got the strain from 'PA WE R', one seed saver relisted it is Pawer's Brandywine, thus illustrating how names can be improperly perpetuated."