A tomato can be of different sizes and colours and come in many different kinds. When tomatoes were first grown, they were yellow and orange. After many years of breeding, the colour red became more common. There are hundreds of different kinds of tomatoes, with colours like red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and black. Some tomatoes, like Heirloom and cherry, come in many varieties, as well.
Many people think that red tomato varieties, like Beefsteak and Roma, are the most popular. Many people think of this variety of tomato when they think of how a tomato tastes. The pink ones taste the same as the red ones, but some people think they aren’t as bright. Pink Girl and Brandywine are two types that are pink.
Persimmon and Mountain Gold are two kinds of orange tomatoes. This type is usually sweeter than red tomatoes, and because it has more sugar, it usually tastes more like fruit. Yellow tomatoes are similar to orange ones, and they tend to be less sour than red ones. This type of tomato has Golden and Garden Peach in it. Most green tomato varieties are less acidic than red tomato varieties because they turn green when they are ready.
Some rare varieties are white tomatoes, which are usually the least acidic and are thought to be bland by some people. Among them are Snow White and Ghost Cherry. Purple and black tomato varieties, like Cherokee Purple and Black Krim, tend to taste stronger and smokier than red tomato varieties.
A Simple Guide to Tomato Varieties by Color
From Classic Red to Stunning White
You’d think that the color of a tomato would tell you something about how it tastes. Well, it does! No matter what weird new tomato varieties you find at the market, you can tell what they taste like by looking at their color. Find out what red, deep purple, bright green, and almost ghostly white tomatoes taste like. Choose tomatoes that feel heavy for their size and smell like tomatoes, even if it’s just a little bit. This is true no matter what color the tomatoes are.
Red and Pink Tomatoes
Most of us think of red and pink tomatoes as having a “classic” taste, a balance of acid and sweetness. The best way to eat perfectly ripe heirloom tomato varieties, especially the softer and fruity ones, is to slice them and eat them raw. If you have red tomatoes that are firmer and denser, those are the ones that work best for making sauce or other ways to preserve them.
Purple and Black Tomatoes
They are called purple and black tomatoes, but most of them are more of a maroon or purple-brown color, like these Cherokee Purples. Most of the time, these tomatoes taste earthy and almost smoky-sweet and have less acid than red tomatoes. Their pretty color doesn’t stay very well when you cook them, and they look duller versions of what they were before. For dramatic effect, these are best used raw in salads and salsas.
Orange and Yellow Tomatoes
Like Lemon Boys and Flamme Oranges, Orange and lemon tomatoes are mild, sweet, and have little acid. They are the kinds that will remind you the most that tomatoes are, from a plant’s point of view, fruits. Their low acidity makes them less good for cooking or preserving, but they are great for salads and other raw dishes like bruschetta. Just toast some bread, rub it with garlic, brush it with olive oil, pile on some chopped tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and bite into summer.
Some tomato varieties, like the Green Zebras (shown here) and German Greens, stay green even when they’re ripe, sweet, and ready to eat. Of course, all tomatoes start green, and there are ways to use green tomatoes that are still on the vine when frost is coming. These truly, deeply, and forever green tomatoes tend to be sweeter and less acidic than red tomatoes. They are great in salads because they add a tomato flavor without making the salad too red.
There is no such thing as a white tomato. As you can see above, they are more of a very pale yellow or very light green. Like yellow tomatoes, white tomatoes like White Beauties are much less acidic than red tomatoes. Also, they are the sweetest kinds (even sweeter than orange and yellow tomatoes). Because they don’t have enough acid, they don’t work well for cooking, but they are delicious, just sliced, salted, and served as is.
Is a Tomato a Fruit or a Vegetable?
Reasons Tomatoes are Vegetables
- They’re not sweet.
- They’re used mostly in savory dishes.
- Hardly anyone eats a whole tomato by itself.
- Hardly anyone puts tomatoes in a fruit salad.
- Hardly anyone eats them for dessert; “tomato pie” is not a thing.
- They’re not animals or minerals.
“From a plant’s point of view, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas are all fruits that grow on vines. But in the common language of the people, all these are vegetables grown in kitchen gardens and eaten cooked or raw, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce. They are usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats that are the main part of the meal, and not as dessert-like most fruits.”
How to Select and Cook with Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are vegetable that shows what it means to eat what’s in season and close to home. Farmers’ markets around the country may be most popular with people who want to buy tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.
How many times have we all bought tomatoes that looked perfect at the store but turned out to be bland mush when we bit into them? To be honest once is one time too often. Even though we can’t say for sure that these tips will keep this from happening to you, they should make it less likely.
Don’t worry about tomatoes with strange shapes. Even cracked skin is fine, but spots that leak juice or are soft are not.
Pick tomatoes that are big for their weight.
Tomatoes shouldn’t smell musty or flat, but rather earthy and like tomatoes.
When you shop at a farmer’s market, you can often try the tomatoes before you buy them.
Also, with all the talk about “heirloom” tomatoes, we worry that people can lose sight of what makes a tomato taste. Most of the time, these are:
- Dry-farmed means that the tomato plants aren’t watered after their flowers bloom. This makes the plants work a little harder to make tomatoes, which gives the tomatoes a better, deeper flavor.
- Vine-ripened means that the tomatoes were left to ripen on the plant before being picked (not simply left on the vine when brought to the store).
- Locally grown because tomatoes grown in the ways described above are fragile and can’t handle long trips.
How to Store Tomatoes at Home?
Don’t hurt tomatoes. Especially heirloom tomato varieties tend to be quite weak. So, please don’t put too many tomatoes in a bag where their weight will crush each other. Also, always pull vine-ripening tomatoes off their vines or cut off the vine stem so that the sharp vines don’t poke holes in your valuable cargo. Above all, never put tomatoes in the fridge. When the temperature is 50 F, tomatoes become mushy and mealy. Keep them at room temperature in a large bowl and use them quickly.
Storing Fresh Tomatoes in the Refrigerator
Putting tomatoes in the fridge does make them last longer, but you can tell the difference in taste and texture between a tomato kept in the fridge and one kept at room temperature. Tomatoes that are kept in the fridge dry out and lose their flavour, and this is because tomatoes that are kept at room temperature stay juicy and full of flavour. If you decide to put ripe tomatoes in the fridge:
- Wipe away any dirt or debris with a paper towel.
- Place tomatoes upside-down on a plate—separate from other fruits and vegetables.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
If you want to eat raw tomatoes, remove them from the fridge and let them warm up to room temperature before serving. The best way to hide any changes in taste or texture is to cook tomatoes that have been in the fridge.
How to Freeze Fresh Tomatoes?
It is easy to freeze tomatoes, whether cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes. Wash and dry the tomatoes very well. If you don’t have much time, you can put whole tomatoes in a container with a lid and freeze them for up to three months. If you have time, you can prepare your tomatoes to make them easier to use when you cook.
You can blanch them to loosen the skin and make this step easier, then cut them in half and take out the seeds. Even though frozen tomatoes won’t be as good as fresh ones, they are great for making tomato sauces and soups. Taking off the skin and seeds makes them easy to grab from the freezer and use when necessary without having to do more work.
There are also differences between open-pollinated tomato plants and hybrid tomato plants, as well as between tomato plants that grow in a determinant or an indeterminate way. Open-pollinated varieties always have the same traits as the parent plant. A hybrid tomato is usually made by putting pollen from one tomato that has already been pollinated into another tomato that has already been pollinated. Most determinate tomato varieties have small bushes or plants that stop growing when the tomatoes are ready to eat. Their tomatoes tend to ripen all at once, usually in about two weeks, and then die.
Some people call the tomatoes that keep growing no matter what “vine tomatoes.” People say that they keep growing and making fruit until the frost kills them. The fruit blooms at all times of the season. Tomatoes are loaded with a substance called lycopene, which gives them their bright red colour and helps protect them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In much the same way, it can help protect your cells from damage. Tomatoes also have potassium, vitamins B and E, and other nutrients.