Take some of the guesswork out of choosing tomato varieties by learning a few basics about how tomato color relates to tomato flavor. This simple guide will help you fine-tune your choices and find just the right tomatoes to please your palate.
Acidity Usually brings a higher acidity to the table.
Flavor Varies, but typically delivers classic tomato taste with plenty of juiciness. With paste types, flavor often intensifies as you cook them down to sauce or paste.
Use Slicing (especially beefsteak types), salsa, canning, sauce, paste, juice, salads.
ExamplesAtkinson, Better Boy, Bonnie Original, Celebrity, Heinz Classic, Juliet, Red Beefsteak, Roma, Rutgers, San Marzano
Acidity Offers a medium acid level—less than red, but more than striped (see below).
Flavor Similar to that of red tomatoes, but tends to be sweeter and somewhat milder. Several consistent taste-test winners (including Pink Brandywine and German Johnson) belong to the pink group.
Use Slicing, fresh eating, stewing, freezing. Most pink tomatoes work fine for canning as well, as long as you follow USDA guidelines for adding acidity.
ExamplesBradley, German Queen, Martha Washington, Pink Brandywine, Pink Girl
Acidity Delivers a low to sometimes medium acid level.
Flavor Varies from sweet (almost candy-like) to fruity.
Use Slicing, fresh eating, salads, juicing, salsa. Older canning books may advise against canning yellow tomatoes, but you can do it safely as long as you follow USDA guidelines (see link above)
ExamplesGolden Jubilee, Lemon Boy, Sun Gold, Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear
Acidity Tends to have a higher acid level, along the lines of a red tomato.
Flavor Complex flavor prized by chefs, who have described the taste using words like "smoky" and "rich." Some gardeners who raise dark tomatoes have trouble sharing them because they're that good.
Use Slicing, fresh eating, salads, cooking for sauce. Slices are eye-catching on a plate! In Russia, native land of Black Prince, the dark fruits are pressed to make an extract sold as Black Prince Tomato Oil.
ExamplesBlack Cherry, Black Prince, Cherokee Purple, Chocolate Sprinkles
Acidity Usually combines low acid with high sugar.
Flavor These bring a sweet, almost fruity taste.
Use Slicing, fresh eating, salsa. Most traditional canning recipes advise against using striped tomatoes, but USDA guidelines make no such distinction as long as you add a source of acid to jars. But really, this kind is just too delicious (and beautiful!) not to eat fresh. It's the variety you'll want to take to a summer picnic, but only if you have enough to spare.
ExampleMr. StripeyArticle written by Julie Marten.