Ever hear of Beef Heart tomato?

Danville, IN

Does anyone know of a heirloom tomato called 'Beef Heart'? A few years ago, a lady came into a local, long-established garden center with some tomatoes that she said had been in the family for generations. She wanted the owner to sell plants the next year as she was getting too old to start her own and didn't want the tomato to be lost. She said her grandmother had a French name for it, but everyone always just called it 'Beef Heart' (NOT 'Ox Heart' or 'Beef Steak'). The fruit can be up to 3 lbs. but are usually the size of a baseball, basically globe-shaped but with a distinctive tapering to the base. Ripens early, very meaty, very low to no acid, few seeds, and delicious. Intermediate and pretty disease-resistant. It's become a great seller for the garden center, and the owner would love to know what it really is called!

I'm going to grow it this summer, and will post photos then. But for now, does anyone know about it?

This message was edited Jan 8, 2011 12:53 PM

This message was edited Jan 8, 2011 12:55 PM

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

In years past, Beef Heart has been used as an alternative name for Oxheart. An ox is just a steer used as a beast of burden, but modern folks are not familiar with the term. There are many versions out there, most of which fit your description. The French name is Coeur de Boeuf ( Beef Heart)

Danville, IN

That very well might be what this one is. I'll research both Coeur de Boeuf and Beef Heart to see what I can find. Thanks!

Danville, IN

Well, this has been really interesting. Googling 'Coeur de Boeuf' led to lots of information that I would like to pass on. Here are two blog entries from people living in France:

I just had to share with you the perfectness of these here tomatoes, bought at our produce store on Rue des Abbesses. They are everything you could possibly hope for in a tomato -- stark red, heavy in your hand, thin-skinned and fleshy, fragrant, sweet and juicy. This particular variety, with its plump ribs just begging to be sliced, is called Coeur de Boeuf -- literally "beef heart".

My neighbor has a gorgeous potager (kitchen garden) and brought over lots of vegetables including these beautiful Tomates Coeur de Boeuf / Beef Heart Tomatoes. They are about the size of large oranges. I love how they look like hearts and are so different in shape (ridges and a tapering bottom) from your run-o-the-mill tomatoes everywhere. There might be many varieties of these Beef Hearts but they don’t look anything like the so-called Beef Hearts I’ve seen in French markets, even at the farmer’s markets. The market varieties never usually look like cow hearts (or at least what I imagine actual cow hearts to look like) because they have flat bottoms. These from my neighbor do seem to merit their name. I am guessing that the market varieties are genetically modified or just a different kind of Coeur de Boeuf that have flat bottoms, which pack and transport easier. (They don’t roll around so much and get damaged with that flat bottom.) In any case, it is once again amazing to see all of the different kinds of vegetables and fruits around here that I’ve never seen before. Btw, these are so amazing in flavor; it is best to eat them raw in salads or as thick slices inside a simple yummy tomato sandwich. (I made tomato sandwiches with avocado, bleu Auvergne cheese and lightly toasted walnut bread.)

Danville, IN

However, to continue: There are other varieties of tomatoes on the market called Beef Heart, Bull's Heart, Ox Heart, etc. that are substantially different from the French version (and the... probably.... same Italian tomato called 'Cuor di Bue', same translation). Where the true Beef Heart has a (slightly ribbed) heart shape, with the distinctly tapered bottom, these others are much flatter, but strongly ribbed. They have thick walls (even promoted as good stuffers), a less complex flavor (some even say "blah"), with more acidity.

It's amazing what you can find out on the Internet! But, I would love to hear from anyone who's grown this tomato.

Thumbnail by HoosierGreen
Danville, IN

Here's a recipe that I found, using 'Coeur de Boeuf' tomatoes. Wow, I can't wait to plant these this spring!

Beef Heart Tomato Salad

1/4 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 shallot, peeled
Fine sea salt
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds tomatoes, cored
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the walnuts, garlic, shallot and a large pinch salt in a blender, small food processor or mortar with a pestle. Process or grind until they become a chunky purée. Add the basil and continue until the leaves are coarsely chopped or crushed—you don’t want a fine purée. Slowly add the oil until it is mixed with the other ingredients. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and some pepper if you like.
2. Cut the tomatoes into thin wedges and either arrange them on a shallow platter or put them in a shallow bowl. Pour the basil and nut mixture over them and toss gently. Garnish with basil sprigs, and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the juices of the tomatoes to emerge. Serve at room temperature with plenty of bread for soaking up the juices.

4 to 6 servings

BTW: The photo didn't import for the previous post. I'll try to figure out how to post photos comparing "true" 'Coeur de Boeuf' with same-name others.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Here's your pic...

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Danville, IN

Thanks, Gymgirl! Aren't they an interesting tomato? I can't wait to try them this year.

From what I have read, there are a lot of "impostor" beef heart tomatoes out there. Usually, they have flatter bottoms, thicker skins, more acid, and less complex flavor.

In Italy, the same tomato is called "Cuor di Bue" (same translation).

I'm surprised no one has posted that they are familiar with this type. They sound great.

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