Tomato Varieties & Their Tastes

An almost endless variety of tomatoes are available for planting and eating. Heirloom tomatoes are known for their rich flavor, and harvested seeds can be replanted year after year. When tasting a tomato, the primary components that create its flavor are the sugar content and acidity of a given variety. It's no surprise that tomatoes high in sugar are thought of as "sweet," and those with a low sugar content are "sour." Tomatoes with both low sugar and acidity, like the yellow pear tomato, are thought of as bland or flavorless.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are firm tomatoes with a rich and sweet taste. These tomatoes are ideal for sandwiches; fruits can be anywhere from 8 oz. to almost 2 lbs., depending on the type. Beefsteaks get their name from their "meaty" texture and marbled appearance. Colors vary from dark pink heirloom varieties to a rich, deep red. One of the oldest beefsteak varieties is the Brandywine, an heirloom tomato dating back to pre-1885 from Amish communities. Brandywines have both sweetness and acidity, creating a balanced, full flavor.

Salad Tomatoes

Salad tomatoes have pulp that falls out when the tomato is sliced. They are small and juicy, with low-acid and high-sugar varieties, and are often halved or quartered for salads. Because of the pulp volume, salad tomatoes do not cook down very quickly. Yellow tomatoes tend to have a mild and sweet taste. Lower in lycopene than their red counterparts, yellow tomatoes are higher in niacin and folate.

Plum Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes, like Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes, have very little pulp. They are ideal for canning or cooking down into sauces faster than other varieties. They tend to have thicker skins. Roma tomatoes have enough flavor for salads, but most paste tomatoes have a disappointing flavor until cooked.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are bite-sized tomatoes used in salads and snacking. Yellow pear tomatoes are one of the older varieties. Though they make a pretty addition to dishes, they have little or no flavor. Their cousin, the red pear tomato, has a more recognizable flavor. Santa cherry tomatoes are meaty with a sweet flavor. Sun cherry tomatoes are known as the sweetest variety of the cherry tomato.

Keywords: tomato variety flavors, tomato flavors, tomato acidity

About this Author

Barbara Gulin has been a freelance writer and editor since 2008. She has helped write curriculum for Asian elementary students to learn Engish, and has written extensive content for Gulin studied electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. She is also a licensed life and health insurance agent.