Whether you consider it a fruit or vegetable, the succulent, juicy tomato brings color and flavor to any dish. Different tomato varieties have qualities all their own that make them the perfect addition to your favorite dish.
The tangy essence of the savory tomato has roots in South/Central America and Mexico. Especially prominent in Italian cuisine, today this popular fruit can be found in recipes from around the world. In actuality, there are hundreds of tomato varieties in the world. However, most supermarkets generally carry a few standard varieties. Today, we’re introducing you to the 7 most common types of tomato varieties you’ll find in the average grocery store or farmer’s market.
How to Select a Fresh, Fragrant, and Tasty Tomato?
When grocery shopping for tomatoes, it’s only natural to find the different varieties overwhelming. After all, how do you select a good tomato, and what type of tomato is best for what? Tomatoes are actually a fruit, a berry actually, and grow on the tomato plant or Solanum lycopersicum.
When buying tomatoes there are a few factors to consider if you want the best fruit for your money. First, whether your tomato has red, yellow, or pink skin, make certain that it has a rich, uniform color. Next, give it the sniff test: Hold it up to your nose and sniff. The aroma should be fresh and not moldy.
A general rule of thumb is that the tastier tomatoes will have a deeper aroma. Oh, and forget the squeeze test, large tomato varieties like the beefsteak will feel heavy when you hold them. If they don’t have heft, then pass them on by.
Finally, avoid any tomatoes that have blemishes. Any discoloration, black spot, or bruised area could mean it’s rotten on the inside. A good tomato will have shiny skin, no matter the color. If the skin is dull, then it’s a good bet that so will the taste.
7 Common Tomato Varieties
1. Heirloom Tomatoes: Juicy, Meaty, and Flavorful
Heirloom tomatoes received their name because they are a pure strain with seeds being passed down from one generation to the next. In other words, they are not hybrid tomatoes like most other tomato varieties. Instead, the roots of heirloom tomatoes are collected and planted next season. There is no cross-pollination.
One of the reasons consumers choose heirlooms over other tomato varieties is their taste. They consider the flavor of the heirloom tomato to be sweeter and the texture more dense and meaty.
Heirloom tomatoes taste great when feasted raw. Just pick out a nice, plump one and bite it like an apple. You’ll find the mouthfeel obtained by biting into a raw heirloom delectable, fresh, and exciting. They are also good choices for canning and sauce-making.
2. Beefsteak Tomatoes: A Hefty Tomato Perfect for Sandwich Making
Beefsteak tomatoes are one of the more sought-after tomatoes in grocery stores. This is due to their thick, tasty texture and size with some weighing up to one pound! They are, for all intents and purposes, the epitome of the classic tomato. Beefsteak tomatoes are the ones to purchase if you’re searching for a tomato that can “do anything”.
Like plum tomatoes, these babies are perfect for making sandwiches due to their low moisture content. In other words, they are easy to slice and won’t bleed juice all over the sandwich bread.
Their low moisture content also makes this variety perfect for salads. Those who love grilled veggies will find that this is the perfect tomato to add to the mix as their beefy texture means they hold up well during grilling.
3. Plum Tomatoes: Perfect for Soups, Brushetta, Sandwiches, and Grilling
Plum tomatoes are one of the favorite tomato varieties in the supermarket. However, if you’re searching for them in the produce aisle but can’t find them by name, check for their alternate name: Roma tomatoes.
These oblong tomatoes are generally chosen for their taste and ease of handling. By ease of handling, we mean that they have a lower moisture content, so they work well on sandwiches and are simple to slice. They’re the number one choice for cooks into canning, making sauces, or roasting. They also make terrific-tasting, fresh tomato paste.
Great for making bruschetta, grilled tomatoes, tomato tarts, marinara sauce, and tomato soup.
4. Cherry Tomatoes: Delectable Little Mouthfuls of Flavor
Cherry tomatoes are one of nature’s treasures. Laden with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, these nutrient-dense powerhouses come with many health benefits. Originally from South America, cherry tomatoes have landed in our supermarkets and are a favorite with shoppers.
Cherry tomatoes are the perfect fix for recipes that require the spark of flavor supplied by tomatoes, but require a tomato that’s easier to handle. This includes salads, kebabs, sandwiches, toppings, and Charcuterie boards. Let’s not forget snacking. Cherry tomatoes are the perfect solution to add to a dieter’s roster of healthy snack foods.
However, if you are at a loss for what to do with cherry tomatoes, check out this fabulous recipe for roasted cherry tomatoes!
5. Tomatoes on the Vine: Fresh, Nutrient Dense and Meaty
When buying tomatoes there’s a good chance you’ll come across some tomatoes on the vine. The reason you see tomatoes still attached to the vine they grew on is that the vine helps keep the tomato fresh.
Many people choose this tomato variety because they believe that they are higher in nutrients than its counterparts. Whether this is true or not, these tomatoes remain an excellent choice for sandwiches as they are easier to slice.
6. Grape Tomatoes: Delicious Mini-Tomatoes Perfect for Salads, Snacks, and Kebabs
According to Dr. Mandell, grape tomatoes have an impact on our overall health and immune system. In grocery stores, grape tomatoes are found in the produce section in small containers. Grape tomatoes are the perfect solution for snacking, salads, and hors d’oeuvres.
Smaller than cherry tomatoes, cherry tomatoes come with a sweeter flavor and are much less tart than cherry tomatoes. That being said, they are interchangeable with cherry tomatoes in recipes.
7. Green Tomatoes: Made for Frying, Roasting, and Baking
The phrase “fried green tomatoes” was made famous due to the film of the same name. That being said, green tomatoes are delicious when baked, fried, or pickled. What is a green tomato? Well, it’s simply an unripe tomato.
When you shop for green tomatoes, one of the first things you’ll notice is that when you squeeze them, they are rather firm. This is normal. This is why they work well when used in recipes that require breading, baking, or fried.
One final note, eating too many green tomatoes can result in stomach upsets. Hard to digest for most people, green tomatoes are best consumed cooked, and never uncooked.
Now that you’re more familiar with The different tomato varieties and how to use them, the next time you enter the grocery store for tomatoes, you’ll be better equipped to select the best variety for your needs. When it comes to buying tomatoes summer seems to be the best season, even though tomatoes can be purchased all year, consumers find that tomatoes purchased in summer are more flavorful, have more texture as well as being firmer to the touch.
A Kumato tomato is a dark brown or almost black tomato that has a slightly sweet taste and is often used in salads or as a garnish.