A member of the nightshade family, the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Is a herbaceous plant that is cultivated as a major commercial product thanks to its highly nutritious edible fruit. Gardeners have a number of tomato cultivars to choose from, and there are many commercial tomato varieties that may be planted in the home garden for fresh, tasty produce.
Beefsteak tomatoes are a large variety of tomato that are popular for sandwichs and on burgers thanks to their hefty size. Bright red and sweet tasting, beefsteak tomatoes are a staple ingredient in the BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato), and it can be found in many supermarkets. Big Beef, Celebrity, Red Sun and Burpee's Early Pick are popular beefsteak tomato cultivars. The plant may be cultivated in the home garden with plenty of sunshine, good crop rotation practices, and staking to keep the large plants from falling over. When sold commercially in stores, beefsteak tomatoes are typically sold either individually or by the pound.
The cherry tomato is a popular tomato for both commercial and home cultivation. Cherry tomatoes are small, about the size of a quarter. Though not as rich and robust in flavor and some of the larger varieties, cherry tomatoes are easy to eat and can be thrown into salads or finger food dishes. Cherry tomatoes are typically sold in baskets or plastic boxes at the grocery store or farmers market. Cherry tomatoes produce fruit early in the season, and may be harvested throughout summer and well into fall. Their resistance to pest and disease makes them a good choice for amateur gardens who are looking for an easier vegetable to grow.
Commercial heirloom tomatoes are defined as tomato varieties that have been in circulation for 50 years or more. The varieties have been passed down without being hybridized with newer varieties. These "old-fashioned" tomatoes are often large, lumpy, and sometimes split, (though they cab be small and smooth) and come in a range of colors and patterns, and are noted for their flavor. Heirloom tomatoes can be yellow, red, orange, pink, green, and even striped, Brandywine, a large, lumpy tomato that is usually a shade of pinkish/red, is one of the most popular heirloom varieties.