The Top 25 Tomatoes and Peppers, Selected by NGA Members

By Dave Whitinger

#1: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Sungold')

@RickCorey says, "Gold / orange / tangerine fruit color.
Very sweet, intense, fruity "tropical" flavor when fully ripe.
More tart just before fully ripe.
Large sprawling vine but will grow in a large container.
Somewhat cool-tolerant. Quite early, but keeps bearing all summer."

@robertduval14 added, "Produces huge numbers of tomatoes per plant. Helps a lot to have these staked or caged, as they sprawl quite a bit. Taste is unlike any other tomato, with a strong 'tropical' flavor."
Photo by dave
#2: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Cherokee Purple')

@BookerC1 says, "This was my first "black" tomato, and is still my favorite tomato. Very complex, smoky flavor. Wonderful eaten plain, or used in salsa or sauces."

@Newyorkrita added, "Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes produce well for an heirloom with very decent fruit set. Tomatoes have a complex and unique flavor. Lovely fruit colors of smokey purple."
Photo by Paul2032
#3: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Celebrity')

@SongofJoy says, "I've grown this numerous times in topsy-turvy bags with very good success. Disease-resistant, high yield and good flavor. Plants can produce 30-40 tomatoes each."

@NJBob added, "A very good Tomato for growing in containers."
Photo by dave
#4: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Kellogg's Breakfast')

@BookerC1 says, "A yellow tomato, but with more flavor than some "bland" yellows. It has a little bit of a bite, almost a citrusy element to it. One of my favorite tomatoes."

@dave added, "Hands down, this is my favorite of all tomatoes. It handles our East Texas climate perfectly and gives us excellent tasting, gigantic slicing tomatoes that are also excellent for salsa.

We sell these as seedlings at the local master gardener plant sale each spring and we never have enough. We have become famous around East Texas for the Kellogg's Breakfast fruits that we offer for sale at the local farmers' market."
Photo by chelle
#5: Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl')

@BookerC1 says, "The tiny peppers, only about 3/4" diameter, are primarily meant to be ornamental. They are edible, and very hot, but don't offer much flavor to go along with the heat. I grow them for the striking purple and green foliage, and the pretty little purple and red peppers. The fruits start out darkest purple, and turn a glowing ember red when fully mature.

I have had some success in saving seed from this pepper, though I highly recommend wearing disposable latex/plastic gloves while handling the fruits to collect the seed. They are extremely hot, and if you inadvertently rub your eyes or lips with the pepper oils on your hands, you will regret it! Wash or flush immediately (I've heard that hot water helps dissolve the oils, though the cold feels more soothing!) and then rinse with cold milk, or apply cold milk compresses. The milk protein, casein, helps to counteract the capsaicin in the pepper oils. As an aside, drinking milk or eating yogurt or other dairy can help with indigestion after eating hot peppers, as well."
Photo by chelle
#6: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Brandywine')

@Newyorkrita says, "I know Brandywine is an heirloom tomato, but I grew Brandywine and can't see what the fuss is all about. It is the most unproductive tomato I have ever grown. Fruit just did not want to set. Flowers and no fruit set. The two or three tomatoes I did get and was able to taste were good, but certainly not worth all the fuss"
Photo by SongofJoy
#7: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Yellow Pear')

@Bonehead says, "I have found this tomato to be mealy and tasteless. Could be my weather, may need a longer or hotter growing season than I have."

@rebloomnut added, "Superb flavor and a high producer of little gems on one plant. A long time favorite of ours."
Photo by robertduval14
#8: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Better Boy')

@Newyorkrita said. "I grow some plants of Better Boy each year and will continue to do so. Just a great all around red tomato with excellent taste. Easy to find, as every nursery and the Big Box Stores all have seedlings in the spring."
Photo by NisiNJ
#9: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Supersonic')

@Horseshoe says, "One of the few hybrid tomatoes I grow; well worth growing.

Excellent growth habit, excellent flavor ("old fashioned flavor--acidic but not to excess); produces abundantly all summer."

@Newyorkrita added, "First year growing the Supersonic tomatoes for me. I bought mine as seedlings at a local nursery. Really bought this variety on impulse as I had not heard of it previously. A very nice all around slicing tomato with good taste. The plants have been growing well without any fungal diseases."
Photo by Gymgirl
#10: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Black Krim')

@BookerC1 says, "2011 was my first year growing this tomato. I've liked other black tomatoes, and heard good reviews about Black Krim. It was smaller than I expected, but had the smoky, rich flavor I was looking for."

@Newyorkrita added, "I thought the flavor of this tomato was excellent. I would like the plant to have set more fruit than it did. However fruits are much too prone to splitting and cracking for me. Will not be growing it again."
Photo by dave
#11: Cherry Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Mexico Midget')

@Katie says, "This tomato is very nice for drying. I like to take a cookie rack, cut the tomatoes along the side, and then I put them cut side up on the rack. After being left in the sun for 1 to 2 days, they are ready to eat."

@jon added, "The 'Mexico Midget' tomato has a very good flavor. And it is crack resistant (for the most part). It is still blooming and I pick around one quart every week."
Photo by Newyorkrita
#12: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Early Girl')

@Newyorkrita says, "Early Girl is a staple in my tomato garden. I have been growing it for years and years. Actually I don't usually get ripe tomatoes from it often really early in the season but it does always produce very reliably. Nice tasting smaller tomatoes but lots of them. The plants have been growing well without any fungal diseases."
Photo by pardalinum
#13: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Big Beef')

@riceke says, "One of the best tomatoes I've planted that is a high producer of large red fruits that last through the hot, humid, disease ridden conditions in my environment. It is dependable."

@Newyorkrita added, "First year growing the Big Beef tomatoes for me. I bought mine as seedlings at a local nursery. A very nice all around slicing tomato with good taste, although the fruits are not very big. The plants have been growing well without any fungal diseases."
Photo by Calif_Sue
#14: New Mexico Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Anaheim')

@bitbit says, "A large, mild chili pepper. Makes a great salsa if you don't like things too hot (or combined with other peppers if you do). Production and timing are not as good as other hot peppers (e.g. jalapeno and cayenne), but still earlier and more prolific than bell peppers."
Photo by farmerdill
#15: Banana Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Sweet Banana')

@SongofJoy says, "Thrives in my container garden."
Photo by robertduval14
#16: Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Lady Bell')

@robertduval14 says, "Great production of medium sized bell peppers."

@Newyorkrita added, "I found really nicely sized Lady Bell pepper seedlings this spring at a local nursery so had to buy and plant them. I think these are a very nice green bell for cooking or eating fresh. Would plant them again next year if I see seedlings."
Photo by wildflowers
#17: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Amana Orange')

@Trish says, "Indeterminate
85 days to fruit."

@dave added, "I'm trialing these this year and am looking forward to seeing how well it performs in our climate. Given that this variety comes from Amana, I bet @LarryR knows a bit about it."
Photo by Horseshoe
#18: Bhut Jolokia (Capsicum chinense)

@Horseshoe says, "Bhut Jolokia (a.k.a. "Ghost Peppers") was considered the hottest available until 2009 when Trinidad Scorpion was proven to be higher on the Scoville scale."

@DanCarmona added, "Bhut Jolokia
Capsicum: .Chinense
Origin: .India
PI: .
Scoville units: .1,041,427
Blossom end shape: .pointed
Fruit position and shape: .pendant, elongate
Fruit size and color: .3¼ "x 1 ¾" green > red
Calyx shape: .saucer shaped, toothless
Flower: .stellate, small, bell-shaped
Petals/Spots: .white/none
Filament color: .white
Anther color: .blue
Habit: . small, usually low bush
Stem: .smooth
Leaves: .large, uneven
Germ. Time: .3 wk. >.3 mo.
Maturity: . 95 days
Plant height: .24 > 36"
Taste: .
This landrace chile originates from the northeast of India, particularly Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. It belongs to Capsicum chinense family and is known by many names in the different Indian provinces."
Photo by Horseshoe
#19: Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense 'Trinidad Scorpion')

@DanCarmona says, "Trinidad Scorpion
Capsicum: Chinense
Origin: Trinidad
Flower: stellate, small, bell-shaped
Petals: white
Spots: no
Calyx: Almost toothless
Pods: Green > orange > red, 2-3" pods
Seed: yellow-brown
Leaves: large, uneven
Plant height: 18-24"
Maturity: 90-120 days
Habit: bush
Scoville units: 800,000-900,000 Hot!!!!!
Germ. Time: 3 wk. >.3 mo.

The plants are tall, upright and reasonably productive bearing 2 to 3in long pendant pods which taper to a sharp pointed 'stinger'. The pods mature from green to orange and finally red approximately 90-120 days after transplanting (similar to some of the other long season chinense species)."
Photo by valleylynn
#20: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Black Cherry')

@bitbit says, "The largest tomato plants I've ever grown - they went up my five foot cages, down to the ground over the outside, and back up to the top again! Produced heavily and over a long season, they were both my earliest and latest tomatoes this year. Good, savory flavor and a perfect size for snacking. Three plants produced many more cherry tomatoes than my husband and I could eat, whereas with most varieties three plants is just enough. Fruit often cracked and attracted insects, but keeping them picked should prevent that."
Photo by SongofJoy
#21: Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Cubanelle')

@Newyorkrita says, "Cubanelle is a very nice frying variety of pepper. I use mine mainly green and usually end up stir frying them. They do turn a nice red if I have patience to leave them long enough."
Photo by DanCarmona
#22: Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense 'Fatalii')

@DanCarmona says, "Fatalii
Capsicum: Chinense
Origin: Central African Republic
Flower: stellate, small, bell-shaped
Petals: white
Spots: No
Calyx: Almost toothless
Pods: 3" long X 1 ¼" Light green, yellow
Seed: yellow-brown
Leaves: large, uneven
Plant height: 24-36"
Maturity: 100 days
Habit: small, usually low tree
Scoville units: 100,000-300,000
Germ. Time: 3 wk. >.3 mo.

This chile is one of the hottest, if not the hottest on earth. A Habanero relative and sometimes spelled Fatalli, this prolific plant can grow up to 4ft tall, although 2ft is more common. They have a fruity, almost citrus-like flavor and make a very attractive-colored hot sauce."
Photo by chelle
#23: Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Giant Marconi')

@SongofJoy says, "This has become my new favorite sweet pepper. It grows well here and produces very large peppers with a mild, succulent flavor. I have had no problems with this plant. It loves the heat, tolerates dry spells, and goes from a lovely dark green to a brilliant red as it ripens."
Photo by Newyorkrita
#24: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Rutgers')

@Ispahan says, "One of my family's favorite tomatoes, Rutger's is a reliable garden stalwart that is useful for canning, slicing, cooking and fresh eating. It always manages to produce a good crop no matter what weather extremities are thrown at it."

@Newyorkrita added, "I decided to grow the Rutgers tomatoes for the first time this year as I had read that this is a good all around variety. Mostly I eat my tomatoes fresh but if I cook sauce then I just use whatever variety I have ripe in my garden at the time. So an all around tomato would be very useful to grow. Nice fruits with good taste and plants with no disease problems."
Photo by vic
  • Uploaded by vic
#25: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Stupice')

@Ispahan says, "I am really enjoying my 'Stupice' this year. Sometimes it is better to forget about all of the unusual heirloom tomato distractions out there and just focus on the basics.

For me, 'Stupice' sets heavily in cold weather, in hot weather (several weeks in mid-90s), in extreme wind and in partial shade. It is always the first non-cherry to ripen and will continue to ripen fruit steadily until the very end of the season when other plants will already have petered out. My plants have never been bothered by pests or disease, and they have a very attractive and manageable compact indeterminate growth habit.

Considering the abundant fruit set, earliness and size of the tomatoes, 'Stupice' has a wonderful flavor. It is mainly sweet with a slight, nice tang underneath. It is good fresh and good sliced up in salads, but it really truly shines when it is cooked. 'Stupice' made into sauces or baked into tarts will make you curl your toes in delight as you eat it. 'Stupice' soup with freshly baked, homemade bread is one of life's great little-known pleasures. And 'Stupice' juice is wonderfully delicious. Oh, and it is productive enough to be a smallish but excellent canner.

Just a summary:

Flavor fresh: 6-6.5/10
Flavor cooked: 8.5/10, one of the best"

About Dave Whitinger
Thumb of 2020-03-17/dave/72728eDave is the Executive Director of National Gardening Association.
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