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The Best Tomato Varieties for Flavor

tomatoes image by Maria Brzostowska from

Everyone claims that her favorite tomato has the best flavor, but to make a truly flavorful tomato, you need all the things crucial to good tomato growth: essential soil nutrients, warmth, sufficient light, just enough water to stimulate growth without mildew, disease resistance, and a lack of pests. Combine all those things with varieties recognized for flavor, and you'll have tasty tomatoes.


This old heirloom tomato has been tantalizing taste buds with its outstanding flavor since its introduction by the Amish prior to 1885. It is not especially productive, though the fruits are quite large, and it has little disease resistance. Although the original Brandywine was a red tomato, the pink Brandywine more often wins taste tests these days. Brandywine is also available in a black and a yellow variety.

Cherokee Purple

Considered a salad tomato because it has a juicy pulp that does not hold well for slicing, it is still reasonably large, and among the sweetest of large tomatoes available. In many taste tests, Cherokee Purple ranks number one--even over Brandywine--having a hint of smoke in its flavor as well as sugar. The native Cherokees have grown this tomato since the late 1800s. It is irregularly shaped and has brick-red colored fruit with contrasting and attractive green gel.

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson is another luscious black tomato, named for Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the famous opera singer and civil rights leader. It is a Russian introduction, given to us by Moscow seedswoman Marina Danilenko to honor that well-loved champion of equal rights. It is a uniformly shaped 3- to 4-inch dusky purple-black tomato with rich, tangy taste.

Green Zebra

Of the green tomatoes, nothing stands out like Green Zebra. Not only does it taste wonderfully sweet-tart, but the color is incredible--apple green with gold stripes. It stays green when ripe, which can be a puzzling at first, but once you learn to “feel” rather than “look” for ripeness, this pretty tomato quickly earns favorite status. It is a somewhat small tomato, maturing at only 2 to 3 inches in size.


Fine Gardening lists Sungold as number four in its taste trials, and several experts and gourmets who love tomatoes wholeheartedly back this opinion. Sungold is a cherry tomato with beautiful orange-yellow color and the rich flavor of its larger, full-sized tomato cousins. It does well in cool weather and is harvested particularly early. It is nearly always preferred over every other cherry tomato in taste tests.

Kellogg’s Breakfast

Another orange tomato--this time a full-sized variety that may weigh up to 2 lbs., and which looks quite a bit like a small pumpkin--Kellogg’s Breakfast gets a four-star rating from Cornell University in taste tests.

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