Inciardi Tomato

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

The Inciardi tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicon), also sometimes called the Ellis Island tomato, is an oxheart variety. Individual tomatoes weigh an average of half a kilogram, are red in color, and are approximately 10 cm wide and 13 cm tall. The Inciardi name comes from Henry Inciardi, a Sicilian immigrant who brought the variety to the United States in 1900. Fearing that the authorities at Ellis Island’s immigration center would confiscate the seeds, his family sewed them all into their clothing. Since that time, it has always been grown in the area of Chicago, in the northern central part of the country. The tomato’s seeds have been shared by the Inciardi family with local residents who today maintain this variety and its seed supply.   The Inciardi tomato is an indeterminate variety and it is very prolific. It is not bothered by heat and droughts, though the fruits do best with adequate hydration and may crack late in the season if left on the vine to ripen with an insufficient water supply. This tomato is remarkable for its wonderful, full tomato flavor, for its full body when it is cooked down into a puree for sauce, for its size on the vine and for the number of fruits per vine. It is a variety well suited both for canning and freezing.   Today, the only source for this exact specimen is the gardening community in Downers Grove, just west of Chicago, Illinois. There has been some research into Sicilian varieties of today but without access to ‘rustic’ varieties there is no way of knowing if it’s descendants are still being grown in Sicily. It is not known if it is being cultivated anywhere else in the United States. The plants are mainly grown for home consumption and seed saving purposes, but not for commercial sale. One problem with increasing the cultivation of this variety is the fact that individual tomatoes contain few seeds.

Back to the archive >


StateUnited States