Yellow cherry tomatoes, red grape tomatoes and one large plum tomato from my garden. (Along with one stunted yellow tomato.)
It’s been a hot, hot summer – we hit a new record high temperature this week – and droughts across the nation have caused problems for farmers and gardeners alike. My tomatoes are still pretty green despite receiving a hefty watering every evening, but luckily I had the foresight to plant some small tomato varieties, which are coming in strong.
Of my seven tomato plants, I’ve been enjoying the fruits from three – an yellow cherry tomato (variety called Sun Gold), a red plum tomato (variety called San Marzano, similar to Roma) and a red grape tomato (not sure of the specific variety).
Do you know the difference between these three types of small tomatoes – cherry, plum and grape?
Cherry tomatoes are the smallest, and as their name implies, they’re round in shape, similar to cherries. I have a yellow variety (though if you ask me, they’re orange), but red cherry tomatoes are very popular, too. These continue to ripen after you pick them. Also known as tomatinas (or baby tomatoes), they’re very sweet. Great by themselves, although I’ve also sliced them in half and used them in salads, stir-fries and on pizza.
Recipe recommendation: Fresh Corn Salad With Cherry Tomatoes
Almost everyone has heard of Roma tomatoes, but not many people know they’re a type of plum tomato. Like the fruit of the same name, these tomatoes are oval-shaped and larger than cherry tomatoes, though still smaller than your average ‘mater. (I’m growing another variety, San Marzano, which are a little more pear-shaped than oval.) Plum tomatoes have fewer seed compartments and a more concentrated flavor, so they’re great for sauces – which makes them very popular for processing. The farmers who grow the tomatoes that are used by Red Gold grow Romas.
Recipe recommendation: Oven-Roasted Tomatoes With Italian Herbs
Grape tomatoes are like a combination of cherry and plum tomatoes. They’re smaller and bite-sized like cherry tomatoes, but they’re oblong in shape like plum tomatoes. Grape tomatoes grow in clusters on the vine – similar to grapes, of course – and so I have more of these than any others. Once you pick them, they stop ripening, so it’s a good idea to take preventative measures against birds if you grow a lot of these. Grape tomatoes also have a thicker skin than the other small varieties, and are a little sweeter, which make them perfect for salads. I usually just cut them in half longwise and sprinkle over a bed of lettuce and carrots with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, though I even put some fresh grape tomatoes on my tacos last night, since that was all I had left!
Recipe recommendation: Zucchini and Grape Tomato Salad
Now that you know the difference between these three tiny tomato varieties, I hope you get to try them all! Which kind of tomato is your favorite?