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‘Oma’s Orange’ Tomato: A Tradition of Love

Three orange 'Oma's Orange' tomatoes on a wood plank surface

Betty Moore, a Seed Savers Exchange member from Stow, Ohio, holds a cherished family heirloom—a tomato variety that has been part of her family for years. This tomato has a rich history dating back to 1937, when Betty’s mother, Oma Rachel Lively Miller, received it from a relative upon her marriage to Howard Ernest Miller. Oma in turn passed on this precious variety to her daughter, who has lovingly cultivated it ever since. You might know it as ‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato.

‘Oma’s Orange’ Tomato

Oma, born in 1914, grew these tomatoes with dedication and love. Betty fondly remembers helping her mother in the garden with her sister, learning the art of nurturing plants and reaping the rewards of their labor. (In particular, she remembers her and her sister’s duty to keep the garden weed-free—a challenge, especially for the rows of onions!)

All together, they harvested not just tomatoes, but a bounty of vegetables that fueled their kitchen creations, including Oma’s famous tomato cocktail—a blend of five vegetables simmered and canned to perfection. (Continue reading for the tomato cocktail recipe, below!)

Two women pose standing in a kitchen in front of many cans of 'Oma's Orange' tomato cocktails
Oma and Betty make Oma’s famous tomato cocktail.

Oma moved from West Virginia to Chesterfield, Ohio, with her family. She knew it was important to keep taking care of her beloved tomatoes. Betty still remembers how Oma would start tomato seeds in old kitchen dishpans before moving them outside.

Betty has grown and saved these tomato seeds since 1983, when she received the seeds from her mother. Since then, she has always grown the tomatoes at her home in Stow. She even continues to make her mother’s tomato cocktail, canning 40-50 jars each summer. 

Sharing Oma’s Legacy

In 2016, Betty shared the seeds of this special variety with Seed Savers Exchange, and they soon added it to the collection. After earning high marks during the “collection to catalog” process, ‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato was introduced in the 2021 SSE catalog, where it remains today.

Two women work in a small greenhouse, surrounded by 'Oma's Orange' tomato plants
Oma and Betty tend tomatoes in Betty’s greenhouse.

Betty wrote the following in her donation correspondence: “My mother had a stroke that put her on a walker. After my father passed away in 2001, my mother came to live with us. She loved helping me in my greenhouse, sitting at a table, placing tomato seeds in pots or transplanting the plants. It made her so happy and me too. My husband built up her raised bed so she could once again plant things.”

She continued, “My mom passed away in 2005 at 90 years old. When I am planting those tomato seeds, planting those beautiful plants, picking, eating or canning those tomatoes, I thank my wonderful mother over and over. If not for her, I would have never known these great tomatoes that I am passing on to my two daughters and grandchildren.”

Betty’s journey with her family heirloom tomato variety is not just a reflection of the past—it’s a beacon of hope and inspiration. By sharing her family heirloom with Seed Savers Exchange, Betty also shared ‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato with a network of gardeners and seed savers. These gardeners in turn continue her mother’s legacy. 

'Oma's Orange' tomatoes stacked
‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato

The SSE Collection

Today, ‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato seeds join the collection at SSE of nearly 20,000 other heirloom varieties. Many of these varieties carry meaningful traditions and stories of their own. 

Each year, Seed Savers Exchange grows out seeds donated to the collection by families just like Betty’s. Regenerating treasured varieties in the collection is a multi-year process, requiring germination testing, growing, evaluating, and then growing the variety for seed increase. This ensures that the seeds are true to type, and in large enough quantities to share broadly with the SSE community. 

However, many seed donations over the years entered the collection quickly, some with very limited accompanying information. The truth is that a portion of the collection remains inaccessible. Here at SSE, we want to get these treasured heirlooms into the hands of gardeners. And you can help!

Donate Today

Your gift to Seed Savers Exchange helps us to continue the important work of keeping these seeds and traditions alive. Your support moves these seeds out of the collection and into the hands of gardeners. Learn more about ways you can support SSE.

Grow ‘Oma’s Orange’ Tomato

You can keep Oma’s legacy alive in your own garden! ‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato seeds are available to purchase through our seed catalog. Betty also donated another tomato variety, ‘Oma’s Pink,’ treasured and cared for by her mother as well. Learn how to grow and save tomato seeds.

‘Oma’s Orange’ tomatoes ripen on the vine at SSE.

Five-Star Reviews

“These are the best low acid tomatoes. This is the best tomato I have ever grown. It tastes like candy. I eat them as fast as they ripen.”

—Jerrie Joe

“I planted Oma’s Orange summer 2021 and it was quite a good producer! Very nice shape, little/no cracking, and a nice low acid mellow flavor. I will plant this again next year. I can pick when they are slightly orange and they are delicious or wait until a deeper orange and they are great too. A versatile tomato!”


“This is the best variety of tomato that I have ever tasted! I am growing them from August to June in a heated, glass greenhouse. These beautiful tomatoes are a treat for the eyes, and the plants produce an abundance of fruit with nice shapes.”


OH MY GOODNESS!!! I LOVE THESE HUGE BEAUTIFUL TOMATOES!! I gave some to family and they all came back for MORE!! I canned them and they are DELIGHTFUL!! Read the history on this LUSCIOUS tomato!! I bought more this year to start plants for family so I can have plenty to can and share with everyone! You won’t be sorry! THANK YOU SEED SAVERS!!


Tomato Cocktail Recipe

Recipe by Oma Rachel Lively Miller, courtesy of Betty Moore

A woman stands in a kitchen next to many jars of 'Oma's Orange' tomato juice cocktail on the counter behind her
Betty Moore cans in her kitchen.

Makes 16-20 quarts

1 ¼ bushel tomatoes
1 ½ bunch celery
2 ½ pounds carrots
10 large green peppers
8 large onions

Grind all vegetables (except tomatoes) separately. (I use my food processor. If you don’t have one, just chop the vegetables into small pieces.) I do this the night before and put the vegetables in the refrigerator in bags to save time. 

Cut up the tomatoes. Simmer all vegetables, including tomatoes, for
1 ½ hours. If you need more than one pot, divide the vegetables. I use my big canner pot. Once done simmering, pour mixture through a colander. (I use my Victorian strainer.) 

Then add the following to a three-gallon pot of juice:
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons paprika

Simmer mixture for 10 minutes. It seems to taste a little sweeter after it sits, but you may want to use more or less sugar and salt.

Pour juice in jars and process in a boiling bath for 35 minutes.

This tomato cocktail is good to drink straight or to use in any recipe that calls for tomato juice.


Thank you to SSE seed historian, Sara Straate, for providing information on the history of the ‘Oma’s Orange’ tomato.