Knowing Your Tomatoes

There’s almost nothing better than eating a tomato right off the vine! If you’ve ever tried to grow your own tomatoes though, you may have found that it didn’t taste quite like you expected it to. And this is common, when you’re not aware of the many different varieties of tomatoes that can be grown in your garden.

Some people don’t know this, but not all tomatoes taste great in a salad or eaten alone. In fact, some tomatoes are grown specifically for use in making tomato sauces or pastes, ketchup and salsa, or spaghetti sauces and marinaras. And it’s these tomatoes which don’t always taste quite “right” to most people, when they’re eaten alone or in salads.

So while knowing how to grow tomatoes is an important step in having success with your tomato or salad garden, also knowing which kind of tomatoes you’re growing is important, too.

Now there are many different varieties of tomatoes so we can’t cover all of them in this one article, but we’ll look at several types which have differing uses:

Cherry Tomatoes – In most cases, any type of cherry tomato is excellent for eating. Either alone, in a salad, or with other meals in your home, cherry tomatoes tend to be juicy and delicious at any time.

Beefsteak Tomatoes – These are usually the large round tomatoes you find for sale in grocery stores. They are red in color, but it’s not usually a strong, deep color of red. These are tasty enough, and they are excellent to use in slices on sandwiches. Some varieties of this type of tomato have a much milder taste than others, and this is more noticable to anyone who has had home grown tomatoes and then buys them at the store. Those grown at home are able to fully mature and ripen before being picked and eaten, while the store bought tomatoes are usually picked before they’re ripe, so they won’t go bad during transport.

Cluster or Vine Ripened – Tomatoes which fall into the clusters category are often also referred to as vine ripened. These tend to be a deeper red color and are smaller than the beefsteak slicing varieties. These are usually quite juicy and more flavorful, so they make wonderful additions to salads and other types of meals.

Roma – Roma tomatoes are most often used for creating sauces, salsas and pastes. These are sometimes called plum tomatoes because they’re about the size of a plum and they’re not actually round. Instead they’re slightly elongated. If you’ve never eaten a roma tomato, you may not like the texture and taste. They’re not overly juicy, and they have thicker flesh than the other types of tomatoes. Some people feel they also have a much stronger taste to them too, and this can be either good or bad depending upon who you ask.

So if you decide to try growing tomatoes in your own garden this year, first decide which purpose you’d like to grow them for. If you love plucking them off the vine and eating them as a fruit, then you may choose a cluster variety. If you want them mainly for putting on your hamburgers each time you have a barbecue, then try growing some beefsteak varieties instead. And if you plan to make your own salsas and other condiments, definitely plant some Roma or other cooking varieties. If you can’t quite decide of course, or you want to try different ones, then plant several types and enjoy taste testing at harvest time!

2 Responses to “Knowing Your Tomatoes”

  • TO MUCH NITROGEN (BY ACCIDENT IN TOMATO BED)HOW DO ITONE DOWN SO TOMATO PRODUCE MORE THAN LEAVES…..HELP

    • admin:

      Hi, Barbara!

      Wow – I wish there was an easy solution to this one. Once tomatoes have been “overdone”
      they usually don’t produce much fruit (if they even survive).
      You can try watering them a ton, but it might be wiser to amend the soil and just get new plants.
      Take care, Bell

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