Known in the United States as grape tomatoes, plum cherry tomatoes combine the sweetness and size of cherry tomatoes with the texture, elongated shape and rich flavor of plum tomatoes. Plum cherry tomatoes are elongated rather than round and have firm flesh. They grow in clusters like cherry tomatoes but are half to one-third the size. Because of their superior flavor and bite-sized appeal, plum cherry tomatoes have earned a growing share of the fresh tomato market.
The first of the grape tomatoes to successfully overtake the cherry tomato market, Santa tomatoes have a similar flavor to Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. Santa tomatoes ripen in 75 days and produce up to 50 tomatoes in a cluster. This is a fast-growing, indeterminate tomato with good disease resistance. Growers recognized the potential of the small, snackable Santa tomato and quickly gained proprietary rights to the seed, so backyard gardeners may have a difficult time finding seed sources.
As commercial markets cornered Santa tomato seed sources, tomato growers tapped into new grape tomato varieties. Jolly Elf, as the name implies, is related to the Santa variety. However, Jolly Elf is a compact, determinate plant, producing tomatoes that ripen early and have firm flesh suitable for shipping and marketing. Jolly Elf tomatoes have a high sugar content and good flavor. They are moderately disease-resistant and do not crack easily.
An indeterminate, spreading plant, Sweet Olive tomatoes ripen early and have a distinct elongation. They are smaller than many plum cherry tomatoes, with a ½- to ¾-inch diameter, and have a high yield. Oregon State University Extension taste trials rated Sweet Olive tomatoes highly, although Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes rated higher. Sweet Olive tomatoes are somewhat susceptible to viruses and disease.
Juliet tomatoes are larger than, ripen later in the season than and do not bear as heavily as Sweet Olive tomatoes. They have a flavor similar to a Roma tomato and are like a miniature Roma in appearance. Juliet cherry plum tomatoes show mild signs of damage from viruses in contaminated soils. Like Sweet Olive and Santa, Juliet is a determinate tomato plant and spreads readily.