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Our Guide To Different Types and Varieties of Tomatoes

Find the tastiest tomato varieties and learn how they differ from one another.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular cultivated vegetables in the world. There are thousands of different types of tomatoes, and new varieties are constantly being created.

Beautiful Red Ripe Heirloom Tomatoes

People use different types of tomatoes for various dishes, including soups, sauces, stews, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Tomatoes began growing in the Andes, then made their way to the Americas, Europe, and beyond. 

And there’s a reason for this global popularity. The general flavor of tomatoes has a touch of everything – sweet, savory, and acidic – which makes it go well with so many other flavors.

Nowadays, people cultivate tomatoes in almost every region in the world, which is why you can find them in nearly every culture’s cuisine, from Peruvian salsa to Italian pizza, Nigerian jollof rice, Indonesia’s sambal, and much more.

Types of Tomatoes

Read on as I delve into some of the most popular types of tomatoes to eat, so you know the differences firsthand.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes, or beef tomatoes, are one of the largest types of tomatoes, sometimes weighing around 1 pound or even more.

These red or pink tomatoes have seed compartments lined up throughout the fruit, which is responsible for a ribbing appearance at the top of the tomato.

Beefsteak tomatoes are great for dips, salsas, and sauces – pretty much everything you might want to dunk another food item into or smother on something else.

They have a milder taste, which is why manufacturers tend to use them for canning and sauces since their flavor is agreeable to a wide variety of people.

Since they are big, I also like using large slices of beef tomatoes for artisan sandwiches.


Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are one of the most petite types of tomatoes, usually around an inch or less in diameter.

They can be red, yellow, or even green when ripe, and they get their name from their similarity in size and shape to cherries.

Cherry tomatoes have a sweeter flavor than other types of tomatoes, which is why they are often used in salads, as a garnish, or just eaten plain as a snack.

I like using cherry tomatoes in pasta – such as cherry tomato pasta alla vodka – because they add a touch of sweetness to regular pasta sauce.


Jubilee Tomatoes

Jubilee tomatoes are an award-winning heirloom-type tomato introduced in 1943.

They are known for their meaty, thick walls, pleasant flavor, and equally pleasant bright yellow color.

Jubilee tomatoes are great for sandwiches and salads. You can use them as a general, all-purpose slicing tomato.

I like to use Jubilee tomatoes whenever I need a thick slice of tomato for a sandwich or other dish because their meaty texture holds up well, and their flavor is versatile.


Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a variety of heirloom tomato that gets their name from the Native American Cherokee tribe, which is recognized as the first to cultivate it.

These tomatoes are large, usually around 1 pound, and have a deep purple color with green shoulders.

They have a rich, earthy, and even sometimes flavor that some say tastes like chocolate, making them a favorite of gourmet cooks.

I like to use Cherokee purple tomatoes in sauces because the deep flavor pairs well with other ingredients and is a unique addition to any dish.


Black Krim Tomatoes

Black Krim tomatoes are yet another variety of heirloom tomatoes, and they get their name from the Black Sea region of Ukraine, where people first cultivated them.

These tomatoes are large, usually around 1 pound, and have a dark purple-red color with green shoulders.

They look very similar to Cherokee Purple tomatoes and have a similarly rich, gourmet flavor.

However, Black Krim tomatoes tend to be sweeter, saltier juicier, making them perfect for cocktails and flavorful sauces.

I like when bloody mary cocktails use Black Krim tomatoes because the taste is deep and impeccable, mixing well with the spiciness of the drink.


Oxheart Tomatoes

Oxheart tomatoes are another type of heirloom tomato that’s very similar to a beefsteak tomato, and they get their name from their heart-shaped appearance.

This heart shape is due to a mutation that caused the bottom half of the tomato to elongate.

These tomatoes can weigh up to 1 pound or more – sometimes even weighing up to three pounds – and they have a deep red color.

Oxheart tomatoes are known for their low acidity and sweetness, making them perfect for salads, sandwiches, and sauces.

They also have a lot of meatiness without a lot of seeds, so they are optimal for cutting into slices.

I like using Oxheart tomatoes in salads because they are simple to chop up and add the perfect flavor to salads with romaine, spinach, or mixed greens base.


Green Striped Zebra

Green Striped Zebra tomato is a unique tomato cultivar with a tart taste.

It got its name for its characteristic look: darn green with brighter yellow stripes.

Tom Wagner, an heirloom breeder from Washington, developed this interesting-looking fruit in 1983.

You have to allow a Green Striped Zebra to ripen at the vine before plucking for the tastiest and most pleasant flavor.

The flavor is tart, as mentioned, but also sweet and tangy, which is a lovely combination that I recommend consuming raw.

This makes it excellent for salads, raw salsas, or even eating alone with salt, pepper, and herbs.


Pear Tomatoes

Pear tomatoes resemble – you guessed it – a pear! They have a wide, round bottom and a narrow top, giving them a pear shape.

These tomatoes are small, typically only around 2 inches long, and they have a bright red, yellow, or orange color. Pear tomatoes are a type of cherry tomato but with a milder sweetness.

That said, I like boosting the flavor of pear tomatoes by pickling them. This amplifies the sweetness and makes them a perfect addition to a charcuterie board or as a cocktail garnish.

I also like turning them into preserves or jam because of how the sweetness is enhanced and pairs well with other fruits or flavors.


San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano Tomatoes is a type of plum tomato that has a relatively long and oval-shape.

They are typically grown in Italy – between Naples and Salerno – and are used in various Italian dishes such as pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or fresh mozzarella as a tasty appetizer.

These tomatoes have a sweet and acidic flavor that is well-balanced. The skin of San Marzano tomatoes is thinner than other plum tomato varieties, making them easier to cook.

I like using San Marzano tomatoes in pizza sauce because the sweetness and velvety nature of the tomato help offset the spiciness of pepperoni or sausage.


Brandywine Tomatoes

Another heirloom cultivar is a Brandywine tomato. Brandywine tomatoes have sizable green foliage and a lighter red or pink color. 

Sometimes they can have an orange, yellow, or even black appearance, but the most common – and most attractive – color for Brandywine tomatoes is pink-red.

To me, these are one of the best types of tomatoes due to their incredible flavor as well as their long list of health benefits.

They are high in vitamin D, vitamin A, and potassium and include powerful antioxidants.

Additionally, they have the perfect amount of acidity to offset their sweetness, providing a rich and balanced taste if grown in the right conditions.


Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are a type of tomato that is grown from seeds that have been passed down for generations.

As you have read in this article, many other tomatoes have branched out from this “umbrella tomato.”

These tomatoes have unique flavor profiles that cannot be found in other types of tomatoes. They also typically have a better taste than hybrid tomatoes.

Heirloom tomatoes are also grown in various colors, shapes, and sizes, which can make for a beautiful and tasty addition to any dish.

While they are typically more expensive than other types of tomatoes, they are worth the investment – especially if you are a true tomato connoisseur!


Types of Tomatoes

  1. Beefsteak Tomatoes
  2. Cherry Tomatoes
  3. Jubilee Tomatoes
  4. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
  5. Black Krim Tomatoes
  6. Oxheart Tomatoes
  7. Green Striped Zebra
  8. Pear Tomatoes
  9. San Marzano Tomatoes
  10. Brandywine Tomatoes
  11. Heirloom Tomatoes

Final Thoughts

When you think about tomatoes, a perfectly rounded, bright red fruit may come to mind. But in reality, tomatoes come in varying shapes, sizes, and colors. They also have varying levels of sweetness, tartness, umami, acidity, thickness, and juiciness.

Depending on their specific qualities, you can use different types of tomatoes for different meals. 

Juicier tomatoes are great for salsas, sauces, and stews; thicker-walled tomatoes with fewer seeds are excellent for sandwiches and salads; sweeter tomatoes are perfect for pasta, charcuterie boards, and even desserts.

Now that you know more about tomatoes, which type of tomato will you try next?

Learn more about food here on our blog, like which types of eggs you can eat or the best things to eat when you’re hungover.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.