Tasting the Rainbow: 13 Tomato Varieties and How to Use Them

There are two types of people in this world: those who say toe-may-toe, and there are those who say toe-ma-toe. At the end of the day, though, Americans tend to enjoy this plant that is both the official state fruit and the official state vegetable of Arkansas. According to Tomato Dirt, "the tomato is America's fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions." They also say that there are somewhere between 10,000 and 25,000 varieties of tomato. Woof.

While we can't cover even one one-hundredth of the lower end of that spectrum, we are able to discuss 13 different types of tomatoes. From the common reds to the rare purples, we're hoping that this list will encourage you to try a variety you haven't before.

1. Beefsteak

When you imagine a Beefsteak tomato, imagine a big, honkin' red one. They're wide, juicy, and are best eaten fresh.

Try them sliced with a little olive oil, fresh basil, and salt.

2. Black Beauty

The Black Beauty is believed to be the darkest tomato in the world. Its dark pigments make it rich in antioxidants, and it is said to be earthy, savory, and rich.

3. Black Sea Man

First #tomatoes from my @towergardenofficial! Can't wait to eat them!!??#blackseamantomato #cleaneating #urbangarden #healthyfood #towergarden

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Elizabeth Haley (@the_elizabethhaley) on

According to TomatoFest, "An heirloom is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family because of it's valued characteristics."

The Black Sea Man is a Russian heirloom that works well in sauces and when its roasted. They taste rich and, contrary to their name, are a pinkish-brown in color.

4. Brandywine

#brandywinetomato #organic

A post shared by Rose Marie (@oursiciliantable) on

If you see a tomato called simply an heirloom in the produce section of your supermarket, chances are it's actually a Brandywine. They're sweet and similar in shape to the Beefsteak.

5. Cherokee Purple

#heirloomtomato #cherokeepurpletomato

A post shared by Nathalie (@nathaliepmcm) on

According to Bonnie Plants, these beautiful heirlooms "are thought to have been passed down from Native Americans of the Cherokee tribe." Their sweet flavor works well when eaten fresh, on salads, and in sandwiches.

6. Cherry

Before you ask, yes, there is a difference between Cherry and Grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes are slightly smaller than cherries, and the Cherry tomato is said to be a bit sweeter in taste and rounder in shape. Cherries are easy to grow and can be eaten fresh from the vine.

7. Green Zebra

Sharply sweet, this watermelon-looking tomato is visually stunning. A favorite among high class chefs and tomato experts alike, the Green Zebra is one of the finest tomatoes on the market.

8. Hugh's

The low acidity of this tomato makes it a more neutral choice for paring with all kinds of options. This Garden Is Illegal says, "This is certainly a candidate for a side dish tomato ... Structurally, it would be good on a sandwich, but you would need to be careful what you paired it with."

9. Orange Strawberry

Today's gifts from the garden. #orangestrawberry

A post shared by Hrag Nassanian (@superphototaker) on

Out of the 10,000 plus varieties of tomatoes, the Orange Strawberry naturally has one of the most heart-like appearances. They're meaty, robust, and tart.

10. Pear Heirloom Cherry

Other than being particularly cute, the Pear Heirloom Cherry tomato has a rather mild flavor. Consider adding a flash of color to your next salad with this vibrant heirloom.

11. Roma

So many tomatoes.....just one plant. #homegrown #romatomato #longfellow #timetomakesauce

A post shared by Yvette Buigues (@heavyblackline) on

Even if you don't think you're familiar with the Roma tomato, we're here to tell you that you've probably eaten one at some point in your life. It's commonly used in sauces and pastes because of its thick flesh.

12. White Queen

Close to the Beefsteak in shape, the White Queen is the whitest of a group of tomatoes called (you guessed it) whites. This heirloom is sweet, juicy, and well-balanced.

13. Yellow Brandywine

friday eve #heirloomtomato pick. #germanstripe #yellowbrandywine #pickallthetomatoes #farmersfridaynight

A post shared by rambling roots farm (@ramblingrootsfarm) on

Some say that you can't go wrong with the flavor of this yellow heirloom. It works well in recipes calling for tomatoes, but many prefer to eat it fresh.

Its bright color will be a great addition to any dish you choose to use it in.

oembed rumble video here