Come summer, and our food markets are filled with all sorts of tomatoes. Tomatoes are part of every kitchen and are an indispensable ingredient of dishes that are popular all over the world.
Tomatoes can be eaten raw or grilled in salads, stewed in sauces and soups, or can be dried in the summer to aid in its preservation. Popular dishes like pizzas, fries with ketchup and chicken tikka masala would be incomplete without this humble berry.
Wait a minute, a berry you say? Yes, in fact, tomatoes are actually fruits and not vegetables. Though in the culinary world they are used as vegetables, they are botanically classified as berries. If you remember lessons from botany in high school, this is because they develop from ripened flower ovaries and contain seeds within them.
These plump beauties carry lots of nutrients in them that promote good health. Research shows that tomatoes are one of the richest and abundantly available sources of Vitamin C and lycopene. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant. It plays a role in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer in humans. As a rule of thumb, the redder the tomato, higher the amount of lycopene in its skin!
Table of Contents
- So where do tomatoes come from?
- Varieties of Tomatoes
- 25. Roma tomatoes
- 24. Red Beefsteak tomatoes
- 23. Cherry tomatoes
- 22. Green Beefsteak tomatoes
- 21. Grape Tomatoes
- 20. Heirloom tomatoes
- 19. Tomatillos
- 18. Cocktail tomatoes
- 17. Tomatoes on the Vine
- 16.Tamarillos or Tree Tomatoes
- 15. Blue Betty tomatoes
- 14. Sun Gold tomatoes
- 13. San Marzano Tomatoes
- 12. Yellow Pear Tomatoes
- 11. Black Cherry Tomatoes
- 10. Vintage Wine Tomatoes
- 9. Italian Ice Tomatoes
- 8. Caspian Pink Tomatoes
- 7. Juliet Tomatoes
- 6. Campari Tomatoes
- 5. Zebra Tomatoes
- 4. Amana Orange Tomatoes
- 3. Purple Russian Tomato
- 2. Tangerine Tomato
- 1. White Potato Leaf Tomato
So where do tomatoes come from?
What is now a universally loved ingredient, is widely believed to have originated in the Andes mountains of South America. The name is derived from the Aztec word- tomatl. The tomato was brought out of South America and introduced to Europe by Spanish travellers in the early 16th century. By this account, the tomato has been a global star only for the past 400 years.
The Spanish and the Italians were the first to incorporate tomatoes in their food. The French were sceptical about this as tomatoes are a relative of the belladonna plant and belong to the deadly nightshade family. In fact, the leaves and flowers of tomato plants are toxic and are also used in organic pesticides. It is now unmatched, except by potatoes and onions, as one of the most popular ingredients cuisines all over the world.
Varieties of Tomatoes
There is an innumerable number of varieties and cultivars of tomato, but some have become important in the culinary world for their properties such as rendering sourness to a dish or working very well in sauces.
25. Roma tomatoes
Probably one of the most recognisable varieties, these slightly long-ish tomatoes are at their best when used in sauces.
They can be eaten raw of course, but they taste great when used to make an arrabbiata sauce or crushed over some bruschetta or to make the Spanish tapas dish- Pan con Tomate.
24. Red Beefsteak tomatoes
These large whoppers can grow up to 1 pound in weight and as such, are one of the largest varieties of tomatoes available.
Their firm and meaty texture make them great additions when sliced and put on sandwiches and burgers.
23. Cherry tomatoes
This sweet, candy-like, small, and tender variety usually comes attached to the vine.
They have crisp skins that have a snappy texture, therefore making them a good choice for salads. They are also the perfect size for barbecue skewers!
22. Green Beefsteak tomatoes
Though they may look like the unripe versions of red tomatoes, they can be eaten as is.
They have a much tarter and tangier flavour than red tomatoes and provide an interesting twist to juices, sandwiches, salsas, and dips (trust us, they are delicious!).
Surprisingly, they also make good substitutes for Granny Smith apples!
21. Grape Tomatoes
These small jewels are similar in size to cherry tomatoes but have a more oval form.
They have a crunchy texture and have a perfect balance of sweet flavours to acidic tart ones.
They are great for grilling and snacking.
20. Heirloom tomatoes
There are hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
In addition, they also add a diverse taste profile to any dishes that you might want to add them to.
Here is a sneaky one, tomatillos are not actually baby tomatoes, as the name might suggest.
However, they do belong to the same family of Solanaceae plants. These fruits are native to Mexico and are a beautiful bright green in colour.
They are more acidic and less sweet than unripe tomatoes and great for making salsas, stews and are also delicious in roasted form.
18. Cocktail tomatoes
These medium-sized tomatoes usually come on the vine. They taste fruity and sweet and therefore make for a great addition to sauces.
Fun fact: The first tomato on the vine is called the king fruit and the last one on the vine is called the tail fruit.
17. Tomatoes on the Vine
As the name suggests, these tomatoes are picked so that they are still on the vine when they are brought into our supermarkets.
This is beneficial, as they are allowed to ripen until they are used; which means that they achieve a greater level of sweetness over time.
16.Tamarillos or Tree Tomatoes
Wait, a tomato that grows on a tree? Well, although they do not belong to the same species as the humble tomato, these fruits are close cousins. They also belong to the nightshade family of fruits and yes, they grow on trees.
Also known as ‘tomate de árbol’, these tomatoes are mostly grown in South America. Since these tomatoes contain high levels of pectin (the reason for the jelly-like texture of jams), they are used to makes preserves, chutneys and compotes.
15. Blue Betty tomatoes
These two-toned tomatoes have a bluish hue near the stalk which slowly blends into the red at the bottom.
They are similar to beefsteak tomatoes and can be quite irregularly shaped but their two-toned exterior makes them exciting on the plate when served stuffed and roasted.
14. Sun Gold tomatoes
These tomatoes have a light orange shade and are incredibly sweet. They make for good snacking and can also be added to salads.
13. San Marzano Tomatoes
Possibly the most commercially viable of all tomatoes, the San Marzano is a longish tomato that is most popularly used for making bottled tomato products such as tomato paste, passata or tomato ketchup.
Their perfect ratio of flavours helps give a consistent flavour to large quantities of commercially-produced sauces.
12. Yellow Pear Tomatoes
These tomatoes, as the name suggests, have a pear-like shape and are also light yellow in colour.
They add tartness to any dish and make great components of salads, where they provide diversity in taste and colour.
11. Black Cherry Tomatoes
They are deep, round purple-black tomatoes that are a delicious treat having complex, rich, and sweet tomato flavours.
Their unusual colour can make them an interesting addition to salads, as well as sauces, as they can impart a deeper colour to the dish.
10. Vintage Wine Tomatoes
From a distance, this sort of tomato can pass off as an apple due to its light red striped skin.
Gardeners and farmers swear by the taste of this tomato as they have a tender, sweet, and mild flavour that can complement most other ingredients.
9. Italian Ice Tomatoes
These pale yellow, almost cream white tomatoes are slightly bigger than cherry tomatoes. They are unique in that they ripen from a green to lemony-white colour when fully mature.
They have an intensely sweet flavour, and thus should be used sparingly in savoury dishes. Try chilling a bowl of the tiny tomatoes for a satisfying, portable, and refreshing snack.
8. Caspian Pink Tomatoes
With an exotic sounding name as this, it is no surprise that this tomato has travelled far.
Originating in Russia and brought to America after the Cold War, this variety produces mild, yet sweet, and large, meaty, and succulent fruits that are second to none. Farmers who grow and sell this variety claim that it is the finest in the world!
7. Juliet Tomatoes
These 2-inch long tomatoes look like mini Roma tomatoes. They grow in clusters and are bursting in flavour.
They are delicious raw, sautéed, grilled, stewed, and added to many preparations, owing to their sweet flavour.
6. Campari Tomatoes
These tomatoes are popular for their high sugar level, juiciness, and low acidity. They are slightly larger than cherry tomatoes and are a deeper red in colour. They are a great source of lycopene.
This is because their colour is well-developed as they are ripened on the vine, thus eliminating the need for excessive use of pesticides.
5. Zebra Tomatoes
This fun variety has a striped skin which gives it a dramatic look. Different cultivars produce green, orange, deep red and even black zebra tomatoes.
They are usually the same size as the common plum tomato. The red varieties are sweet whereas the green ones give a tangier kick.
4. Amana Orange Tomatoes
This sort of tomato is named for its place of origin, which is Amana in the state of Iowa, USA.
These deep orange tomatoes resemble beefsteak tomatoes and are a good ingredient for sauces as they render a bright and appetising colour to them.
3. Purple Russian Tomato
Here is another heirloom variety of tomato that originated in Ukraine. It is purplish in colour with an egg shape.
Its delicious flavour allows it to be eaten raw and it can be enjoyed with a sprinkling of salt or added to sauces to give them a deep colour.
2. Tangerine Tomato
This variety is available year-round and has recently become popular due to research that shows that it has a greater level of the cis lycopene isomer, an antioxidant, than red tomatoes.
It has a very attractive bright orange colour and is sweet in its taste.
1. White Potato Leaf Tomato
Is it a bird, is it a plane? This tomato with a confusing name is called so as the leaves of the plant look like that of potato plants.
It is pale yellow in colour and has a creamy texture. This fruit provides a mild and slightly tart flavour.
This rounds up the list of the top 25 sorts of tomatoes that are most sought after for their aesthetic and culinary properties. Has this post made your taste buds tingle with the prospect of fresh, juicy tomatoes? Go ahead and cook and enjoy a hearty dish with one of the stars from this list.