Hanover tomatoes are somewhat legendary in central and eastern Virginia. Unlike other famous tomato varieties such as the Green Zebra, Texas Star, Cherokee Purple or Sungold, the Hanover tomato is not known for its particular size, shape or color. As you can see, it is a traditional-looking red tomato. So what makes a Hanover tomato special?
Hanover tomatoes are categorized by their terroir, meaning the environment in which they are grown. Hanover County is located in Virginia, just outside of Richmond. The coastal soil in which these tomatoes are grown is known to be rich in sand, holding less water than the red clay-dense soil just a few miles West that defines the wine-growing Piedmont region. This dryer soil imparts a more intense tomato flavor, and the county’s unique climate seems to offer the perfect balance of soil, pH, rain and sun for growing the bright, ripe fruit.
In Virginia and on the East Coast, Hanovers are undeniably popular. Whether this is due to their superior flavor and beauty or just clever, specialized marketing on behalf of the growers and the state, we’ll never know, but the market has been flourishing. The Hanover County government’s homepage features the tomato, and there’s even a huge festival that draws tens of thousands of patrons each year. These vine-ripened summer treats are delicious on simple tomato sandwiches, in summer salads or as the star ingredient in Hanover tomato jam, which we’ll share with you tomorrow.
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