Vegetables and Fruit forum: Tell me why you like black tomatoes

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Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
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Bonehead
May 1, 2017 10:41 AM CST
I've read through many of the tomato threads, looking for candidates for my growing pleasure this season. I have a short tomato growing season and try to stick to varieties that are in the 60-70 day ripening range. I only grow 5 plants each season, and try to find my favorites as well as try new ones. I don't grow from seed, I let my local nurseries do that for me, so usually I will go with a list of 10 or so potentials, hoping I will find ones on my list. For variety, I try to mix up the colors but find I am most happy with traditional orange or red. I've tried a couple black tomatoes and have been largely unimpressed. Mostly, I think my brain cannot reconcile the odd color. I've also noted that most of the ones I've tried all crack which only adds to their non-appeal (to me).

So, reaching out to the tomato-heads to let me know why you like the black varieties, along with your favorite varieties. I'm not opposed to trying one again, and try to keep my mind open.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Durgan
Brantford, ON, Canada (Zone 5a)
Durgan
May 1, 2017 11:21 AM CST
At first I viewed the dark types with trepidation. Now they are my favorite. I like them for slicing, but I mostly make juice around 400 pounds used from around 30 plants or slightly less. The dark ones have a delightful subtle taste.

My two favorites are Black Krim and Lemon boy. Lemon boy is prolific and bright yellow and usually perfect in shape. You are right about cracking. Black Krim usually cracks on the stem side but can easily be cut away. The dark types are not particularly prolific but adequate. There are only about 5 dark types and I suspect the parents are from Black Krim.

Most heritage types are far from perfect shape and are often ugly. The trade off is the hybrids that often have thick skins. But are usually prolific and when juicing makes little difference.

http://durgan.org/2016/Septemb... 8 September 2016 Tomato Juice
Twenty pounds of Sicilian Saucer tomatoes were made into 9 liters of juice. Seven liters were pressure canned for storage and two liters were for current use. Each liter for juice is about two pounds of tomatoes. Each Sicilian saucer tomato weights about one pound. Picture depicts the process. So far the two plants in the garden have produced 52 pounds of tomatoes.

http://durgan.org/2016/August%... 21 August 2016 Tomato Juice
Fifty pounds of tomatoes were picked and processed into 24 liters of tomato juice. Twenty four liter jars of pressure canned juice was obtained. Annotated pictures delineate the process.
Durgan Zone 5a
Brantford, ON Canada
http://durgan.org/2011/ Garden Journal
Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Bonehead
May 1, 2017 11:44 AM CST
I don't can, juice, or otherwise process tomatoes. I just grow them for fresh eating, most often hand to mouth. I usually grow a couple cherries or grapes, a couple salads, and a beefsteak. Hybrids usually do better for me with my short growing season, although I've had some luck with open pollinated (Old German, Bloody Butcher).

For the past few years, I've been tracking my tomatoes and rate them as either Good, Meh, or Bleh. Black Cherry was one black tomato I tried and got a Meh rating with the notes "sweet, OK producer, weird color." Cherokee Purple got a Bleh rating "doesn't climb well, cracked bad, don't get again."

I've seen lots of references to Black Krim, maybe I'll give that one a whirl this season. Does it climb well? I use twisty stakes for my tomatoes rather than cages.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Durgan
Brantford, ON, Canada (Zone 5a)
Durgan
May 1, 2017 2:00 PM CST
Black Cherry small is a great tomato. I grow a few usually three of the small types. I dislike picking them. The elongated ones are also nice called grape. They are similar.

Cherokee purple I don't grow anymore. Skin is like leather and it is far from purple. I tie to an overhead structure with strings. Black Krim has no particular climbing features similar to most tomatoes. All I do is keep the tomatoes off the ground.
Durgan Zone 5a
Brantford, ON Canada
http://durgan.org/2011/ Garden Journal
Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Bonehead
May 1, 2017 2:32 PM CST
I always get indeterminate tomatoes so I can train them up my spiral supports. Usually they will try to grow vertically, but some just loiter around at ground level. That's what I meant by climbing ability (I realize they don't have any particular mechanism to climb).
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Paul Fish
Brownville, Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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PaulF
May 1, 2017 3:50 PM CST
Your short growing season is one drawback for my favorite blacks. Another may be the amount of moisture. Temperature is also a limiting factor.

My favorite blacks are all mid to late season tomatoes. They also like plenty of sun and a little more heat than I remember growing up in Forest Grove, Oregon. If I remember correctly, by June it was the dry season, so moisture may not be a problem. Cracking fruit can be caused by too much watering. Overwatering will also 'wash out' flavor. Do you grow in ground or in containers?

While I have very good luck with Cherokee Purple there are others I might recommend. Cherokee Chocolate may be an alternative to CP. I also like Carbon, Brad's Black Heart, Bear Creek, J.D's Special C Tex, Spudakee, 1884 Purple and Big Cheef.

Shorter season choice may be the mentioned Black Cherry. I do not like cherry tomatoes but this one is very good, a black in flavor and is quite prolific. You may like some of the new dwarf varieties from the International Dwarf Project: Tasmanian Chocolate, Sarandipity, Dwarf Wild Fred and Dwarf Wild Spudleaf.

I have had no luck with Black Krim or Black from Tula or Black Seaman. That may be my location more than the variety
Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Bonehead
May 1, 2017 4:12 PM CST
My usual growing season is: warm but wet June, hot July and August, then wet and cooler September. I only provide additional water when it is needed, not a regular irrigation system, so that can be iffy depending on my memory. We can get some downpours, though, in the hot months, and that can wreak havoc on the tomatoes.

I'll make a note of some of these suggestions and see what my local nursery has in stock. I typically buy gallon plants and put them directly into the ground by early June.

I've seen several folks don't care for cherry tomatoes - why not? I love just picking a handful on my way out the door for a quick snack.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
May 2, 2017 4:56 AM CST
My best tomato here is Cherokee Purple and I would put a great one against a great Brandywine any time. I get complex flavor from both, but Cherokee Purple is better here.

It IS trickier to know when to harvest the purple ones. I go by gentle feel.

To each their own, of course, but a Cherokee Purple, grown right, is something to experience. And it seems more productive and resilient.
Name: Durgan
Brantford, ON, Canada (Zone 5a)
Durgan
May 2, 2017 5:53 AM CST
http://www.durgan.org/URL/?XZH... 16 September 2012 . 214 pounds of tomatoes picked 2,5,9,16 September
A total of 513 pounds of tomatoes was picked from about 32 plants over the season.Average 16 pounds per plant. There are probably another 100 or so pounds remaining if the weather holds with no frost.This is my best year ever for tomatoes.
Durgan Zone 5a
Brantford, ON Canada
http://durgan.org/2011/ Garden Journal
Name: Paul Fish
Brownville, Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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PaulF
May 2, 2017 6:39 AM CST
Deb: You most likely will not find the blacks I like at a local nursery except for CP and maybe Black Cherry. If there is a local heirloom/OP tomato grower in your area they may have some or will grow them for you for next year.

Each of my favorites have a unique flavor. Some like to say they have a smokey flavor but what I taste is a combination of sweet and traditional tomatoey flavors with undertones of spice. Sort of like what wine tasters say they can detect.

I like great big chunks of tomato or slabs that fit on a sandwich. Cherries don't do that. Black Cherry tastes good enough for a snack.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
May 2, 2017 7:09 AM CST
Bonehead said: I only grow 5 plants each season, and try to find my favorites as well as try new ones. I don't grow from seed, I let my local nurseries do that for me...

It sounds like time to get beyond your comfort zone.
While I'm blessed with a very long season....
.....
It should still be possible for you to both grow from seed painlessly, AND....
Allow tomato volunteers to grow.

At my house....
I scatter seed on a large nursery pot, and as the plants get large enough to handle, decant the plants and repot into gallon size nursery pots, eventually planting them out in the garden... If your weather is less hot, you might be able to skip a step.

Volunteers are great!
When tomato plants come up as weeds, dig them up and move them around!
I have blooms on some volunteer Everglades maters that came up in the pot that I had sweet potatoes growing in..... I set out one, potted up another, and the sweet potato is in the ground too.

My black tomatoes don't have names, they're just some decendents of maters someone was fixing to toss several years ago.

Last December:
Thumb of 2017-05-02/stone/8d6531
Not terrifically dark any more....

Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Bonehead
May 2, 2017 7:47 AM CST
My go-to nursery has a good selection, is a small operation, and uses safe practices (owner is a former beekeeper). They usually have a pretty wide range of healthy tomatoes to choose from. I don't have (or particularly want) a greenhouse and rather fail at seed starting. It is really difficult for me to look at my spindly 6" starts when the nurseries are offering 18" bulked up plants. So, I go with the varieties offered, which usually include several heirlooms, and a variety of colors.

I've rather written off green tomatoes - I just can't tell when they are ripe, and they don't do anything for me visually. Green Zebra was pretty, but per my notes "nothing special, late to ripen, buggy/diseasy" for a Meh rating. As noted above, growing conditions year to year can change things up.

Love the name 'Brad's Black Heart' - I'll keep an eye out for that one!

Stone, I never thought to keep my volunteers - maybe I'll set aside a spot for random volunteer tomatoes and see how that goes.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Don Shirer
Westbrook, CT (Zone 6a)
Seed Starter Tomato Heads Vegetable Grower Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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DonShirer
May 2, 2017 8:11 AM CST
@Deb :
      Don't fret too much if you don't like black or green tomatoes. I've realized that for every person who loves a certain variety, there is another who hates it. Test out new varieties and just stick with the ones you like.

      If it is the color black that offends you, "black" tomatoes are rarely black, just dark purple, red or brown. There are even 'black-blue' and 'black-orange' varieties (see 'Indigo Rose' and 'Uluru Ochre'). If you are open to suggestions, two that have very good reviews are 'Black and Brown Boar' and 'Black and Red Boar'.

     I like to try at least one "black" every year just to sample their flavor, which is often called "spicy". This year I'm trying 'Amazon Chocolate' and 'Bundaberg Rumball' (love that name!).
Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Bonehead
May 2, 2017 11:05 AM CST
The blacks just look a bit spoiled to me, which I think triggers my brain to somewhat reject them. But then, folks rave about the flavor so I think, OK try again. Perhaps one will catch my fancy and grow well for me. I'm not a fan of odd colored carrots or 'black' blooming flowers either. I do like Easter Egg radishes.

As a small-time tomato grower with a short season, I am trying to really nail what works for me that I like the taste of. Here's my top winners so far, but sometimes I can't find these so have a backup list of alternates:

Beefsteak: Old German (OP) - bicolor, medium sized, good flavor, deep ribbing
Salad: Bloody Butcher (OP) - deep flavor, fairly productive, bit of cracking
Red cherry: Sweet Baby Girl (F1) - delicious, produced well
Orange cherry: Sun Sugar (F1) - juicy, thin skinned, very sweet
Yellow cherry: Lemon Drop (F1) - sweet, ripens in cool weather

I admit that the name can be influential for me as well. I was holding out hope for 'First Lady' last season because I admire Michelle Obama, but she only got a Meh rating for bland flavor.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 4, 2017 1:24 PM CST
Black Krim has a bad reputation for cracking so I don't recommend it. Black Cherry is a wonderful dark large cherry type and if you don't like the taste of it then perhaps the dark tomatoes are just not for you. They do have a unique taste. Me, I love the taste.
Name: Durgan
Brantford, ON, Canada (Zone 5a)
Durgan
May 4, 2017 5:09 PM CST
Black Krim has a dark sort of green color which disguises the fact that it is ripe. I now pick them at the first sign of changing color. If left on the vine all they do is get soft. Truly my favorite slicing tomato, but I I'm easy to please when it comes to tomatoes.

http://www.durgan.org/URL/?YWW... 25 July 2011 Black Krim Tomato

There are about ten Black Krim tomato plants. This is my favorite tomato. It is a dark fleshed heritage type, which I grew from seed. It has a nice texture and certainly a strong tomato taste with a thin skin. I have found that all the dark skinned tomatoes are essentially the same; in fact, when grown side by side it is impossible to tell them apart. Many heritage types are distorted and cracked, this one is relatively nice shaped and devoid of serious deep grooves. It is also about palm sized.




Durgan Zone 5a
Brantford, ON Canada
http://durgan.org/2011/ Garden Journal
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 4, 2017 7:56 PM CST
Well, Black Krim does taste good but for me cracks so early that even picking early doesn't help.

I hate tomatoes that are very prone to cracking. Seems to be common in heirloom black or dark tomatoes.

My favorite dark slicer is Amazon Chocolate. I grew two last season and am growing two again this season.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 5, 2017 11:18 AM CST
I like the dark tomatoes for their flavor, as the catalogs often say-- real tomato flavor.

I do not like cherry type because I do not like sweet tomatoes, period.
In Minn. we can have a semi-tropical humid summer and those years one has to check the tomatoes every day as they ripen and drop or spit quickly.
Splitting does not bother me as I just cut around it if large or simply ignore it.

I like tomato sandwiches and the dark ones work well for that.
I used to plant a dozen or so plants but that got to be genuine work, especially as I fought cold snaps in the fall; how some of you plant dozens amazes me and you have my full respect as a gardener. Thumbs up I tip my hat to you.
[Last edited by RpR - May 5, 2017 11:20 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1434315 (18)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 26, 2017 1:24 PM CST
I just realized that I have far less black, dark or chocolate tomatoes in the garden this season than last. I think that is because I tried many new to me varieties (like Black Prince) to see how I like them,. Well, taste was great but lots of splitting and cracking. I really hate tomatoes to split and crack!! Grumbling
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
May 26, 2017 3:04 PM CST
Oh I just remembered I am growing a new to me back cherry type tomato called Ron's Carbon Copy. We will see how I like it.

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