This rare and unusual African-American heirloom came into the Collection in 1982 from Mrs. M. J. Grooms of Philadelphia, great-granddaughter of a cook who worked at Eastern State Penitentiary. According to Mrs. Grooms, this tomato was grown by the prisoners in their large kitchen garden within the walls of the prison since the mid-1800s and it was from the prisoners that her family acquired the tomato. Since it exhibits many of the physical traits of Cook’s Favorite, a commercial tomato grown in Philadelphia during the 1860s and 1870s, Moyamensing may be a local selection of that now extinct variety. In traditional Philadelphia cookery, it was a tomato of choice for soups, catsups, and general canning. The green tomatoes are excellent in pickles.
With blocky orange-red fruits growing in clusters of three, the 8-lobed fruit is about 2 to 2 ½ inches in diameter. A prolific mid-season variety, Moyamensing will begin producing in 85 days and bear generously right up to frost.