Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad (gift only with purchase)
- Grown, sold, and described by Bunny Hop Seeds
- Plant growth: indeterminate
- Leaf type: regular leaf
- Time to maturity: midseason
- GIFT PACKET, seed count varies
- Germination tested after Hot Water Seed Treatment for Fungal and Bacterial Diseases
“Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad” is a pink beefsteak tomato with an assertive taste. Its historical significance and delicious flavor make it a prime candidate to add to my “Special Gift Packets” offerings. Special Gift Packets are free with purchase of at least one package of Bunny Hop Seeds. The limit is only one Special Gift Packet per order.
This tomato has a story that goes back to the turmoil and troubled times faced by Americans of the north and south before and during the Civil War. We do not know what the original name was, but this variety came to be called Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad. First, some background is necessary. The Underground Railroad was neither a railroad nor an underground transit, although some hiding places were indeed, under the ground. It was a secret network of people who helped slaves escape from the southern US to hopeful freedom in the north or other countries. The journey to freedom was a perilous undertaking for all of those involved. It wasn’t as though people could just pack a suitcase and hop on a train. The slaves did not likely have many possessions, nor could they bring more than they could carry. Travel was by boat, train, wagon, or walking. It was more difficult for children to keep up with the travel and to stay quiet when hiding, and female slaves did not have the opportunity to leave the plantations as much as the men did. Therefore, many who escaped through the Underground Railroad were men.
As the story is told, seeds of this tomato were carried by a black man, probably a slave, as he traveled on the Underground Railroad from Kentucky. We do not know the name of this man, but his tomato seeds were important enough for him to include in the sparse possessions brought on the journey. The man made it safely to the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio, which was a much-used stop on the Underground Railroad. The (hopefully now free) man grew these tomatoes in Ohio and shared saved seeds with a woman named Lou. Seeds were passed in Lou’s family and then shared with even more friends and family through many years. Today, more than 156 years later (wow!), we can all grow this tomato known as Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad.
I believe that, in common with many varieties passed informally along through many years, the tomato may have changed a bit in appearance. For example, it is described in a tomato database as being a round, medium slicer. However, all of the images I found on the Internet showed a flattened, mostly large, beefsteak. The color is described variously as “pinkish red” and “deep purple pink.” Okay. The flesh is red, and the skin is clear. This means that this is a pink tomato. It has a vigorous growth habit and the fruits are strongly flavored, where the tomatoey flavor lingers after you swallow. It is not especially sweet, but the acids and sugars are well-balanced.
I will continue to grow this variety for the Special Gift Collection, because I do not feel that this man brought his beloved tomato seeds on that incredible journey just to make a quick buck. No, he shared the seeds. This is what I will do, too.
Out of stock