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Height: 72 - 120" (1.83-3.05 m)
Plant Spacing: 24 - 36" (0.61-0.91 m)
Row Spacing: 36 - 48" (0.91-1.22 m)
Days to Maturity: 69 - 80
Growing Habit: Indeterminate
Sun: Full Sun
Size: Medium, Large
Shape: Medium, Large
Genetic Type: Heirloom
Variety Type: Paste/Canning, Saladette/Pear, Slicers
Disease Resistance: N/A
Salads, sauces, salsa, canned or eaten fresh
Information for Opalka
The Opalka is an open pollinated tomato originating from Poland. The Opalka family brought the seeds to Amsterdam of New York around the 1900s. Carl Swidorski gave Carolyn Male the seeds who contributed it as part of the 1997 SSE (Seed Savers Exchange) Yearbook collection. Swidorski's Polish wife was from the Opalka family.
Opalka grows on delicate foliage that bears irregularly shaped fruits. This type of tomato confusingly comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The standard shape of the Opalka is actually pear, but sometimes appears like a teardrop, bullhorn or wax pepper with pronounced tips on the ends.
Three to five fruits containing very few seeds grow in clusters and clutch well on the vigorous indeterminate vines. Very close to the skin are its small seed cavities that are partly hollow. Opalkas are ideally picked right before they are completely full-grown and allowed to cease maturing off the vine.
Opalka tomato plants need direct sunlight to properly develop. They also require warm, rich soils in moderate temperatures. They are heavy producers that are classified as one of the great-tasting paste tomatoes around. It is meaty and rich in flavor. It is juicy enough when bitten into, giving off a harmony of refreshing sweetness and favorable tartness.
Opalka is delicious when fresh and can be eaten straight off the vine. It is also excellent for canning and slicing. These tomatoes are great for topping on salads, tucking in sandwiches, and mashing into paste or sauces.
Interestingly, there are similar varieties of the Opalka tomato. These include Cow's Tit, Howard German, and Gallo Plum. They may be associated with Opalka's unusual shape, size, and foliage, but are entirely different due to their origins and texture.
Considered heirloom tomatoes, Opalka seeds can be saved and passed down to family members or close acquaintances for years to come. These seeds may not be frequently available, but commercial vendors do collect and sell them through their seed catalogs. Vendors in farmers markets occasionally sell fresh, ripe Opalkas in wholesale trays.
The Opalka tomato was indexed in the book "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden" by Carolyn J. Male. A well-esteemed tomato variety, it is a favorite among tomato lovers around the world.
Photo Credit: Kirsten Jennings