Get to know the different types of tomatoes as well as specific samples for each and discover the different ways you can enjoy these fruits which are excellent sources of lycopene, among many others.
Surely you’ve already heard about tomatoes, and you’ve definitely already been corrected at a young age for mistaking a tomato for a vegetable, when it is in fact a fruit! But perhaps you didn’t know that there are thousands of different tomato species and different tomato cultivar types as well.
One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to tomatoes. You’ll want a specific type of tomato depending on the dish you’re attempting to make! Through this article we’re going to go through 40 of the most popular types of tomatoes, how to care for them, and some general info about these amazing fruiting plants.
Some Quick Tomato Facts
Tomatoes are fruits that originated in Peru. This is how the tomato go its common name which is actually derived from the Aztec term that translates literally to “a plump thing with a navel”. It is doubtful that a fruit has ever been given a more appropriate name.
There are around 10,000 varieties of tomatoes all over the world that can be a wide range of colors, from pink to purple, yellow to white, and sometimes even as dark as black. There are tomatoes that can be striped or spotted as well.
Tomatoes have been cultivated by humans for centuries. They are incredibly valuable fruit to past markets and current markets. Though tomatoes have been bred extensively, there are still some unique heirloom varieties that always turn heads at farmers markets.
Although it’s botanically classified as a fruit, the U.S. tariff law of 1887 classified it as a vegetable on the basis that it’s often served with dinner and not as a dessert. Tomato is the state vegetable of New Jersey, the official state fruit and beverage of Ohio, both the state fruit and vegetable of Arkansas.
Tomatoes are very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine and make their star appearances on the pizzas and in pasta sauces. The first tomato that arrived in Europe was yellow and referred to as pomo d’oro or the “golden apple.”
In Spain, one of the most popular summer festivals is La Tomatina tomato fight in Buñol near Valencia where about 110,000 kgs of tomatoes are brought into the city simply for the purpose of having a giant tomato fight. This happens every year on the last Wednesday of August.
Tomatoes Nutrition Facts Chart
What is a Tomato Plant?
Tomato plants are flowering plants that are annual in nature. This means that they will experience their entire life cycle within one year. The tomato seeds are planted, from them the tomato seedling will grow. Then the flowers blossom and are pollinated, from which the tomato fruit will grow. Once the plant has fully ripe tomatoes that are ready for harvest, the plant will die rather shortly after that.
How do you Take Care of a Tomato Plant?
Planting tomatoes may seem like an intimidating endeavour, but there are some very simple rules to follow. Treat a tomato plant like you would any fruit that you know needs heat and water! Whether you are planting in an open garden or in a tomato cage, achieving the perfect tomato crop isn’t too difficult to do. So pick up a notebook, take some notes, and get excited about growing tomatoes!
It is important that a tomato plant is planted in soil that is very well drained. It will not be happy at all if it is planted in waterlogged or very packed soil. These plants are not particularly pick about the type of soil they are planted in, but there is an ideal kind.
Tomato plants prefer to be planted in your garden in a fertile loamy type of soil that has a pH level ranging from 5.8-7.0. There is a soil test you can purchase to figure out the pH level of your planting soil.
The ideal soil type can easily be achieved by incorporating organic compost (or high nitrogen fertilizer) to the soil before planting your tomato seeds.
Though the appropriate amount of water to give a tomato will vary depending on the species, a good general rule to follow is that they prefer to have at least 2 inches of irrigation or natural rainfall per week.
A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the soil your tomato plant is planted in never becomes fully dry. Soil should be moist but not waterlogged.
Tomato plants are sun loving creatures. This means that they should be exposed to a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of full sun exposure for day. They will not be happy at all if they are placed in partial shade or full shade.
One of the most specific growing conditions for tomato plants is temperature. A drastic change in temperature can drastically affect the quality of of your tomato crop — this is why planting tomato seed outdoors can be a little bit risky.
The ideal temperature for a tomato plant usually hovers around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures exceed 95 degrees it can potentially decrease the amount of tomato production, or if temperatures dips below 50 degrees it can result in low quality tomatoes.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of other insects and animals that love tomatoes just as much as humans do. It can be very discouraging to work very hard at tending to your tomato plant only to wake up one morning to find it has been infested by aphids.
Don’t be too quick to result to chemicals to deal with this issues. There are plenty of nifty companion planting tricks you can learn, where other plants planted in proximity can repel certain pests and prevent tomato diseases.
Look out for the following pests and diseases:
- Blossom End Rot
- Looper Caterpillars
- Tomato Mite
- Tomato Hornworm
Categorizing Tomato Types
A determinate plant is bred in a specific type of way to basically have a predetermined height. They will usually stop growing stem and leaf once it reaches around 3-4 feet in height. Tomatoes have been bred in this way to make it is easier for mass harvest capabilities.
A determinate plant will also, instead of leaves, will have buds located at the ends of all the branches form flowers. They then flower in a short period of time, set and ripen the fruit, and then die. These are in contrast to indeterminate tomatoes, which grow on vines instead of bushes.
Instead of growing on bushes such as determinate tomatoes do, indeterminate tomatoes grow on vines, and therefore, they need to be supported by either staking or by being grown in a tomato cage. These tomatoes continue growing until killed by frost, and this is usually later in the growing season than determinate tomatoes.
Indeterminate tomatoes also produce very large crops and have a much longer growing period than determinate tomatoes do. They have lateral shoots found off the main stems that set flowers, and it is possible for them to get up to 10 feet tall if given the support they need.
Hybrid vs. Heirloom Tomatoes
Hybrid tomatoes produce a large crop and are easily harvested, not to mention their resistance to diseases. A hybrid tomato is a cross between several cultivar types wherein the best qualities from different tomatoes can all be incorporated into one type. This helps with flavor, storage length, disease resistance, and many more features purchases don’t usually think about.
On the other hand, an heirloom variety will usually taste better than hybrid tomatoes and they do well under local conditions, and since they can’t be shipped long distances because of their thin skin, they are normally passed down from neighbor to neighbor or family member to family member. They are usually not found in grocery stores, but in local farmers’ markets instead.
An heirloom variety grower is a little bit more rare than a hybrid cultivator. This is because heirloom seeds have been passed down for many generations, and for this reason are quite valuable and precious.
Styles of Tomatoes
A. Beefsteak Tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes are known for their size, getting up to six inches in diameter. In fact, some of them weigh between one and three pounds, making them a very large variety of tomato.
They need a long growing season, which means you may not want to plant them if you have short or cool summers. They are thick and meaty, making them the perfect slicing tomato for sandwiches.
B. Cherry and Grape Tomatoes
Cherry and grape tomatoes are easy to grow and small, which is one of the reasons they are recommended for those who have never before planted tomatoes. They usually get no more than one inch in diameter, and they tend to be very resistant to disease.
Cherry and grape tomatoes can do well even in cases of drought or otherwise poor soil, and they are perfect for people who have cool or very short summers, which means they even do well in containers.
These types of tomatoes are great for fresh tomato snacking as well as being used as garnishes in salads and the like. They have a much sweeter taste than other tomato types and can be a great way to offset a very tangy tomato sauce.
C. Roma Tomatoes
Roma tomatoes (sometimes referred to as a plum tomato) are thick and have few seeds, but a lot of pectins. They are a sweeter variety than other types of tomato, and they make the perfect tomato sauce or tomato paste. They also have very little moisture in them, enabling you to store them for a very long time and cooking to the perfect consistency when making pastes or sauces.
Roma tomatoes have firm flesh, a sweet taste, and are perfect for topping pizzas or for making dried tomatoes. The little amount of seeds and liquid they have inside make them far easier to slice, and can be great as a slicing tomato for sandwiches because they won’t make the bread all soggy!
D. Salad Tomatoes
A little bit more tart and more juicy than cherry or beefsteak tomatoes, salad tomatoes usually get up to around three inches in diameter. You can slice them and put them into a sandwich or chop them in small pieces and put them in a salad.
They are the perfect tomato to make a tomato sauce with, especially if you cook them down to a good consistency, and some of them taste a bit like tropical fruits. In fact, they are the perfect combination of tartness, juiciness, and acidity, which balance one another out to create the perfect tomato taste. This tomato variety is best eaten as a fresh tomato.
40 Specific Types of Tomatoes
A. Beefsteak Tomatoes
1. Big Beef Tomatoes
Big Beef tomatoes bloom early in the growing season and can get up to six inches in diameter. Best of all, they grow well almost anywhere, and they have a great flavor and firm texture. They are also one of the smartest types of tomatoes to grow when you live in a cooler climate.
This is the type of tomato you see in a grocery store and are shocked at the sheer size of it. Since these don’t store super well due to their high moisture content, it’s a good idea to save these for a recipe or dish that will require the use of the entire tomato.
2. Black Krim Tomatoes
This fruit doesn’t always look like a tomato because it is large and reddish-purple in color. It is sweet and very flavorful, and it is a beautiful fruit when you cut it in wedges. It is an absolute favorite among tomato lovers that is rarely seen in grocery store, so if you happen to see one, make sure to snatch one up!
Though the black krim tomato tends to ripen a bit later in the year, the unique sweet and salty flavor is well worth the wait. Additionally, they are a superb size overall and can be used in many applications. They will be delicious whether they are eaten as a fresh tomato, sauce tomato, or canned tomato.
3. Brandywine Pink Tomatoes
These are a classic type of beefsteak tomato. Although they don’t produce as much fruit as other types of beefsteak tomatoes, the Brandywine Pink tomato has a great flavor that all lovers of this fruit can appreciate.
The lighter pink color of this tomato may seem a little bit unusual when you see it in a grocery store, almost as if the tomato hasn’t ripened all the way — though this is not at all the case. You can tell the ripeness of a tomato by the touch, not by the color.
4. Caspian Pink Tomatoes
These tomatoes are indeterminate tomatoes that are juicy, sweet, and have a great tomato flavor. A classic beefsteak tomato that is absolutely essential to the perfect sandwich. They have a little bit more moisture content (this is part of the reason why they end up being so huge) so try to use them in an application where they can be eaten in their entirety right away.
This is an heirloom variety of tomato that is said to have originated from Russia! The Caspian pink tomato has won many awards and has the high reputation of being one of the best tasting tomatoes on the planet.
5. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Cherokee purple tomatoes are a deep red color with a purplish shoulder that can be grown even by people with limited space. It is an indeterminate tomato that has a sweet, smoky-like taste. These tomatoes are interesting because the way they look is a perfection representation of their unique taste.
The Cherokee purple tomato is an heirloom indeterminate vine tomato type that has been in cultivation for hundreds of years.
6. Hillbilly Tomatoes
Hillbilly tomatoes are heirloom tomatoes and have an orange color with reddish streaks throughout them. Looking a lot like a peach, these tomatoes are perfect in salads and on sandwiches. Hillbilly tomatoes are absolutely massive and are considered one of the hugest of the beefsteak tomatoes.
Hillbilly tomatoes are a little bit different than other beefsteak types because they grow a lot more flesh than others and have far less moisture. This makes them easier to store. Each tomato can be as heavy a 2 pounds!
7. Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes
The distinguishing characteristic of this tomato is its size. It can be up to two pounds in weight and is very large and heavy. Mortgage Lifter tomatoes are heirloom tomatoes that produce a lot of fruit on very strong vines.
This type of tomato is described as being super meaty without too much moisture. It is known as being the perfect blend of sweet and salty — that perfect beefsteak tomato flavor! Just remember that these tomatoes require a little bit more maintenance in that they need to be staked because of the super heavy fruit.
B. Cherry and Grape Tomatoes
8. Black Cherry Tomatoes
The black cherry tomatoes are disease resistant and a type of heirloom tomato. It has purplish-red fruit that grows in clusters of one inch, and it is known not for sweetness, but for its true tomato taste. Most smaller tomatoes tend to have a much sweeter taste, but this is not the case with the black cherry tomato.
9. Isis Candy Tomatoes
These high-yield indeterminate tomatoes have a unique look because they are yellow in color with red streaks in them. They are very tasty and sweet. These are a very popular tomato crop because they grow very prolifically and are quite disease resistant.
10. Sungold Tomatoes
Sungold tomatoes are sweet and orange in color and they grow to approximately one inch in diameter. They are an indeterminate type of tomato that produces for a very long time, usually until the first frost arrives.
The sungold tomato is one of the sweetest tomatoes you can get, and even though they are already a fruit, they are truly about as sweet as fruit would be! They are almost similar to candy in that way. They are quite juicy and are best eaten as a snack, as the can be popped in your mouth and are accompanied by a wonderful “pop” when you bite into them.
11. Sunrise Bumble Bee Tomatoes
This is a cherry tomato that is orange in color with red streaks throughout the flesh. If you make a tasty, attractive summer salad, don’t forget to add the Sunrise Bumble Bee tomatoes!
The sunrise bumble bee tomato is an indeterminate variety that has a vining growth habit. They grow very close to the ground and usually have very productive harvest yields. There’s nothing bad about this tomato: they’re delicious, they’re easy to grow, and they last well into the season.
12. Sweet 100 Tomatoes
Sweet 100 tomatoes taste yummy and are a type of indeterminate tomato. They grow bite-sized tomatoes on long trusses, and they produce very large crops. As indicated by the name, they are quite sweet in nature with a fair amount of seeds within the fruit.
These tomatoes are also wonderful because they will continue to grow throughout the summer all the way until the first frost of the season.
C. Roma Tomatoes
13. Big Mama Tomatoes
These tomatoes get up to five inches in diameter, hence their name, and they have a slightly oval shape, like a perfect plum! They are heavy enough to make the perfect sauce, and they are especially tasty if you cut them in half and fire-roast them before cooking them.
Though they are known primarily as being a tomato paste tomato, they can be used in all other ways that tomatoes can be used. Heck, try out biting one like it were an apple!
14. Dwarf Saucy Mary Tomatoes
These fruits are elongated with a green color and stripes of both dark and light green. When ripe, their flesh is also green, and they are very juicy and tasty. They usually weigh no more than six ounces.
Many people often think that a green tomato means an unripe tomato, but this isn’t always the case. Tomatoes can be many different colors, and even combinations of more than one. The dwarf saucy mary tomato is a great option for making fried green tomatoes which is a classic southern dish.
15. King Humbert Tomatoes
These are indeterminate tomatoes that are plum shaped and very red in color. They are very meaty and juicy, and they are great not only for sauces but also if you want a good dried tomato. Of course, you can also eat them fresh if you like, because they have a mild and sweet flavor.
16. Orange Banana Tomatoes
The thing that makes this tomato unique is its deep-orange color, which is rare in paste tomatoes. With a nice fruity flavor, the Orange Banana tomato is great for salsa, sauces, canned, and as a dried tomato. Even though the sundried tomato craze came and went in the early 2000’s, they could make a comeback!
17. San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes are oblong in shape and produce a lot of fruit. They are large tomatoes, up to five inches long, and these indeterminate tomatoes always grow vigorously.
San Marzano tomatoes are the most common type of tomato that is used for canned tomato recipes. They often are grown in Italy and exported all over the world. These are an essential type of tomato to have in your pantry for the perfect pasta sauce recipe.
18. Sausage Tomatoes
Sausage tomatoes are elongated and can get up to six inches long. Great for sauces, pastes, and catsup, the Sausage tomato is an indeterminate tomato that is extremely flavorful. “Meaty” is a descriptor that is often used for tomatoes, and it is most appropriately used when it comes to sausage tomatoes. They have quite a textured bite and are salty in a way the meat would be.
19. Speckled Roman Paste Tomatoes
These tomatoes are elongated and have a pointed tip. They are a beautiful shade of red with orange streaks throughout, and they are extremely tasty. They are also called the Spotted Roman, and they can weigh up to six ounces. These types of tomatoes are loved because of their ease of preparation.
The spotted Roman tomato tends to be more meaty and firm than juicy, making them far easier to slice. Because of the lack of moisture, they also create a very sweet and robust tasting tomato paste.
D. Salad Tomatoes
20. Black Zebra Tomatoes
Black Zebras are indeterminate heirlooms that taste great and have purplish-black flesh and green streaks. They are also resistant to many types of diseases. These can be quite rare, so make sure to snatch them up if you ever see them in a grocery store. They make for a wonderfully extravagant salad garnish.
These tend to be a little bit more juicy and are filled with seeds, so keep this is mind when deciding on your ideal salad garnish. The amount of seeds also means that they are a great option to keep in your seed stock for next year, as that provides a higher chance for viable seeds.
21. Carmello Tomatoes
These are mid-sized tomatoes that get from three to four inches in diameter. They produce a large crop and have the perfect combination of acidity and sweetness. Carmello tomatoes are so productive that they will continue to produce ripe tomatoes well after other tomatoes have stopped.
This green tomato variety is great for several reasons: they taste wonderful, they’re easy to grow, they are resistant to disease, and they are both large and attractive in appearance.
22. Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes
These tomatoes are unique in that they have so many ridges that they look as though they are misshapen. Deep red in color with orange shoulders, the Costoluto Genovese tomato is extremely juicy and tasty, so they are definitely considered a favorite among those who love tomatoes.
This unusual growth habit is celebrated in the heirloom tomato grower society. It is less common to see this tomato shape in grocery stores, but it usually means it will be a super flavorful tomato!
23. Early Girl Tomatoes
These tomatoes are usually harvested early – hence their name – because they grow early in the season and do especially well in cooler climates or areas that have short summers. The deep-red fruit is the perfect blend of a true tomato taste and just the right amount of sweetness.
Make sure to remember the early girl tomato if you happen to live in a region that experiences more mild summers. This is the perfect tomato type that will thrive in those types of environments.
24. Enchantment Tomatoes
Enchantment tomatoes are oval-shaped and bright-red in color. It grows on a vine in large clusters, and it has a great taste. In fact, this type of tomato can be used in sauces, for oven-dried tomatoes, and of course, in salads and sandwiches, so it is quite versatile. The fruit gets to roughly three inches in diameter, hence why it is placed in the salad tomato category.
25. Green Zebra Tomatoes
These tomatoes get up to four inches in diameter and are a green color with darker green stripes running through it. An excellent heirloom tomato, they get slightly yellow when they’re ripe and grow very fast.
The green zebra tomato tends to have a more mild flavor that is far more on the tart and salt side than on the sweet side. They are also exceptionally rare, so if you happen to see them, remember to save the seeds and attempt growing your own!
26. Pantano Romanesco Tomatoes
These are wonderful heirloom tomatoes that are perfect for slicing and placing on sandwiches. They have the perfect blend of tartness and sweetness, similar to citrus fruit, and they belong in the indeterminate class. The Pantano Romanesco tomato is one of the most common types of tomatoes. You may even have one sitting on your counter as we speak!
27. Stupice Tomatoes
Stupice tomatoes grow to approximately two inches in diameter and are deep red in color and oblong shaped. The best part of growing these tomatoes is that they produce for a very long time, even if you experience cool or short summers, so you can enjoy them for a very long time.
The stupice tomato will be delicious in any way. They can be eaten fresh, used for a tomato sauce or as a soup base.
If you see large clusters of tomatoes in a hothouse in the middle of winter, they are likely Sweet Clusters tomatoes. These fruits are great tasting, having a combination of tartness, sweetness, and the perfect tomato flavor. This is the perfect tomato type for snacking.
29. Valencia Tomatoes
These tomatoes are bright orange in color and have a perfect flavor. They are juicy, but not too juicy, have very few seeds, and are similar in taste to a sweet mango and other citrus fruits. Valencia tomatoes have that coveted ridged growth habit that makes your mouth water just by looking at it.
Valencia tomatoes are delectable whether they are eaten fresh or cooked. This variety would be exceptional placed on the grill and eaten as is, as a sandwich garnish, or in a Caprese salad.
Some Extra Unique Tomato Types
30. Evergreen Tomatoes
These tomatoes weigh roughly eight ounces and have green skin with hints of yellow. When they’re fully ripe, they are a bright-green color, and they are indeterminate tomatoes. This is a beefsteak tomato that is actually lime green in color (hence the common name, ” evergreen”) with a very strong flavor.
31. Long Keeper Tomatoes
These indeterminate tomatoes have orange skin and orange-red flesh. They weigh approximately six ounces and are very solid tomatoes, which is why you can keep them for a very long time before cooking them. Orange tomatoes to have a sweeter flavor profile to them, and this is absolutely the case with the long keeper tomato.
This would be a great tomato to use for a dish where you are combining other types of fruits: like a salad with burrata, peaches, and orange tomatoes topped with a balsamic glaze and fresh basil leaves.
32. White Wonder Tomatoes
White Wonder tomatoes are indeterminate tomatoes that weigh approximately eight ounces. Their flesh and skin are both a creamy white to yellow in color. This is a beefsteak style of tomato that can grow to be quite large. Their flavor is a little bit more of the mild side, but it will perk right up with a dash of salt.
33. Yellow Stuffer Tomatoes
These are lobed, indeterminate tomatoes weighing only around four ounces. They are shaped like a pepper and have a lemon-yellow color. Yellow Stuffer tomatoes are semi-hollow with firmer flesh on the outside and therefore, they are perfect for stuffing.