Grit Blogs > The Creative Vegetable Gardener

What Color is Your Tomato?

Karen NewcombWarmer weather and the thought of spring send a gardeners imagination into overdrive.  Tomatoes in the garden are a tradition, and we tend to plant the same variety year after year.  A trip to the local nursery may have some colored varieties, but if not buy the seed and start them yourself.

Who doesn’t love a great tasting slice of tomato, picked fresh from the vine?  But why stop with one of hundreds of the red varieties?  What if you grew a rainbow array of red, white, green, pink, purple/black, striped, yellow and orange slicing tomatoes, planted side by side for a visual extravaganza?  Imagine that translating into a platter of fresh sliced tomatoes set before your dinner guests.  Perhaps with thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with garden fresh basil and drizzled with a good olive oil.  Yum!

Let’s start with a good red variety.  While heirloom tomatoes have become the popular choice the past few years, you may prefer planting hybrids.  I would also recommend, if you have the garden space, plant an early, midseason, and late variety.  If space is limited plant for the main season.  If you live in a short season growing area, I recommend the early varieties. You can find the heirloom varieties below from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Bountiful Gardens, Seed Savers Exchange, Terroir Seeds, and Totally Tomatoes.  For a complete list of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes and where to purchase the seed visit: 

Red slicing tomatoes 

Early varieties 

Marmande 70 days.  A French heirloom that is scarlet, lightly ribbed and full of flavor.  Medium-large size red tomato that produces even in cool weather.  Semi-determinate plant. 

Stupice (OP) 65 days.  This is a Czechoslovakia variety.  It is red with small to medium-sized, 3-6 ounce fruit.  Indeterminate plant.  This would be a good variety for short season areas.

Thessoloniki  68 days.  These are baseball-sized red tomatoes.  A Greek variety that is mild in flavor and virtually refuse to rot even when completely ripe.  Indeterminate plant.

Mid-season main crop 

Brandywine Red (OP)  85 days.  A large-lobed beefsteak-shaped tomato with, pinkish-red skin and weighs 16 ounces.  Not acidic.  The indeterminate plant is best staked, grown in cages or on a trellis. 

Costoluto Genovese (OP)  85 days.  A 19th century Italian heirloom that is flattened and quite attractive with deep ribbing.  Determinate plant.

Costoluto Genovese tomatoes. (Photo courtesy Plant World Seeds.)  

Ponderosa Red 80-90 days.  An 1891 American heirloom.  A meaty, 10-24 ounce, flattened beefsteak with deep red color.  This variety tends to do well in humid areas.  Indeterminate plant.

Late season 

Rutgers  100 days.  Save the best of the season for canning.  A large red 8 ounce globe-shaped tomato that is a New Jersey heirloom.  Large plant.

Purple slicing tomatoes 

Early variety 

Black Prince (OP)  70 days.  An heirloom from Irkutsk, Siberia.  The 5 ounce, 2-3 inch diameter tomatoes are round and uniform in shape.  They are deep blackish-chocolate brown.  Sweet, rich flavor.  Indeterminate plant.

Mid-season main crop 

Black Krim (OP)  78 days.  A delicious Russian heirloom. 4 inch, brown-red when ripe.  Very juicy with thin skin and dark-green shoulders.  A slight saltiness enhances the taste. Indeterminate plant.

Black Krim tomatoes. (Photo courtesy Plant World Seeds.)  

Cherokee Purple  80 days.  This is a Cherokee Indian, pre 1890 heirloom.  Deep dusky purple-pink color.  Very large tomato weighs 10 to 12 ounces.  Sweet flavor.  Indeterminate plant.

Purple Russian  75 days.  Purplish 6 ounce egg-shaped tomatoes.  Ukrainian heirloom.  Fruit has no blemishes and top flavor. 

Late season 

Black Brandywine  90-100 days.  Very dark maroon color, almost black fruits.  Same flavor as the other Brandywines.  Indeterminate plant.

Green slicing tomatoes 

Early variety 

Lime Green Salad 58 days.  An heirloom 3 ounce tomato with apple-green skin that matures to yellowish, with lime-green flesh.  Sweet tangy flavor.  Short plants.  

Midseason, main crop 

Aunt Ruby’s German Green  85 days.  One of the largest green beefsteaks grown.  It can grow up to 1 pound.  Brilliant, neon-green flesh with strong, sweet, fruity flavor.  This German heirloom came by the way of Greenville, Tennessee.

Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomatoes. (Photo courtesy Totally Tomatoes.)  

Emerald Evergreen  80 days.  A medium-large heirloom.  Lime-green tomatoes that have a rich, sweet flavor.  Another green beefsteak growing on indeterminate plant.

Green Pineapple  Strange that a tomato would have a pineapple aroma, but this medium-sized fruit does.  It has smooth green flesh and olive-green skin.  An Ohio heirloom.

Pink Slicing Tomatoes 

Early variety 

Mrs. Benson’s  70 days.  A beefsteak type tomato with dark pink color.  Weighs up to 1 pound and grows on an indeterminate potato leaf plant.  This variety has few seeds and is crack resistant.

Midseason, main crop 

Arkansas Traveler  80 days.  This Arkansas heirloom can tolerate heat and humidity.  Medium-sized pink tomato with smooth rose-colored skin.  Crack-resistant and has a good flavor.  Grows on an indeterminate plant.

Brandywine (OP)  80 days.  This popular 1885 heirloom pink tomato is still going strong today.  Large fruit can grow up to 1 ½ pounds.  Grows on an indeterminate potato leaf plant.

Mortgage Lifter (OP) 79-85 days.  Large, smooth, 1 pound deep-pink fruit.  1930s heirloom has a fascinating story of a man who needed to pay off his mortgage.  Fruit is crack free and grows on an indeterminate plant.

Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. (Photo courtesy Plant World Seeds.)  

Late variety 

The Dutchman  90 days.  Large, old-fashioned pink-skinned heirloom tomato can weigh up to 3 pounds each.

Yellow Slicing Tomatoes 

Early variety 

Yellow Taxi  65-70 days.  A lemon-yellow heirloom with smooth, round, baseball-sized sweet fruit.

Midseason, main crop 

Golden Ponderosa  78 days.  A West Virginia heirloom that is a large core, yellow-gold tomato weighing over a pound.  A sub-acid tomato with mild flavor.  Indeterminate plant.

Tasmanian Blushing Yellow  85 days.  A 5-6 ounce yellow fruit with a trace of pink inside the silky flesh.  Very sweet, yet mild.

Yellow Brandywine  76 days.  An Indianan heirloom with the same flavor as the Pink Brandywine.  Large, slightly ribbed beefsteaks are sweet and tangy.  Indeterminate plant with large potato leaves.  This tomato keeps well.

Late variety 

Huge Lemon Oxheart 90 days.  Gigantic, pale-yellow, very sweet beefsteak tomato.  An Amish heirloom.

Orange Slicing Tomatoes 

Early variety 

Orange King  A large early bright-orange slicer weighing up to ¾ pound.  Sets well in high or low temperature conditions and is very prolific.

Rosalie’s Early Orange 70 days.  An indeterminate plant that produces 1-2 pound tomatoes that are heart-shaped with green shoulders and firm flesh.  Very few seeds.

Midseason, main crop 

Amana Orange 75-80 days.  Big, 1 pound glowing-orange beefsteaks.  An Iowa heirloom.  Very attractive tomato full of intense flavor.  Indeterminate plant.

Amana Orange tomatoes. (Photo courtesy Totally Tomatoes.)  

Golden Jubliee  70-80 days.  Sweet, mild flavored, good size tomato that is an old standard variety.  Indeterminate plant.

Nebraska Wedding  85-90 days.  A 4” round tomato with glowing orange skin.  Nebraska heirloom seeds were given, and still are, to brides as a wedding gift.  36” determinate plants.

Late variety 

Dad’s Sunset 90 days.  Perfect orange tomato.  10 ounce fruits are smooth, uniform and glowing orange.

White Slicing Tomatoes 

Midseason, main crop 

Duggin White  80 days.  Medium-size white beefsteak that is a very rare heirloom.

Ivory Egg  70-75 days.  A Swedish variety that has ivory-cream fruit in the shape and size of a chicken egg.  Creamy flesh is sweet and rich.

White Queen  An 1882 heirloom that is 4-8 ounces of creamy-white and intensely sweet.

Striped Slicing Tomatoes 

Midseason, main crop 

Ananas Noir (OP)  An heirloom from Belgium.  1 ½ pounds, multi-colored smooth fruit in green, yellow and purple mix.  The flesh is bright green with deep red streaks.  Superb flavor being both sweet and smoky with a hint of citrus.

Ananas Noir tomatoes. (Photo courtesy Totally Tomatoes.)  

Mr. Stripey  85 days.  A West Virginia heirloom.  A huge, beefsteak averaging 1-2 pounds.  Yellow-orange with red and pink streaks.  Mild, low acid taste.  Indeterminate plant.

William’s Striped  85-90 days.  A Kentucky heirloom.  1 pound or more, it has beautiful exterior and interior of red and yellow colors.  Indeterminate plant.

Late varieties 

Gold Medal 90 days.  1 pound bi-colored tomato.  Yellow fruits are blushed with rosy red from the blossom end.  Firm flesh is sweet and mild tasting.

Hawaiian Pineapple  90-95 days.  A 1 pound fruit with yellow and red mottled flesh.  Excellent flaor that is sweet, fruity and somewhat pineapple-like taste.