Everybody loves fresh garden tomatoes, but are you getting bored of the classic red? While you can always grow a yellow or green variety, why not go really unique and grow a black tomato!
Black tomatoes come in all your favorite types, from cherry to slicing to beefsteak, and you can even get Roma varieties. They can be used fresh in salads and sandwiches or cooked into sauces and stir fries.
While black tomatoes are never truly black (and many of them are even dark red), these dark-skinned varieties have great flavour on top of their striking good looks. And many of them are heirlooms to boot.
Add colour to your garden with 13 awesome black (or mostly black) tomato varieties.
About Black Tomatoes
Black tomatoes are not really black, though some of them come pretty darn close. Instead, they come in a range of colours like dark purple, blue, brown, or maroon and they usually get darker when exposed to more sunlight (though heat plays a role, too). Black tomatoes are typically indeterminate, and the vines often have a dark or purple hue themselves.
While new varieties are being bred all the time, many black tomatoes are heirlooms and have been around for a long time. They have a great intense flavour that is generally slightly sweet with a hint of acidity.
Many varieties get their dark color from anthocyanin, which is also responsible for the dark color in many other fruits such as plums and blueberries. Because of this flavonoid pigment, black tomatoes are generally very healthy and packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
4 Rare Black Tomato Varieties To grow
If you want to grow a tomato that are so dark they look like almost like an 8-ball, then these are the varieties to try:
1: Black Beauty
This is a very popular black tomato and the darkest. The extreme-deep purple skin will actually look black in certain light and they are very striking on the vine (and in the kitchen).
They are black from the time they emerge behind the flower until they mature (though some growers find they can take on a red tinge as they finish ripening).
The bright red flesh is meaty and they store on the cupboard very well. In fact, the flavour actually gets better when they are stored at room temperature. Black Beauty are very high in anthocyanin, making them a healthy option as well as delicious.
Black Beauty can develop slowly so start them indoors on heat mats for a successful start. They mature in around 80 days, but they can be slow to ripen so be patient with them. They are a medium-yielding tomato, but they have a very long production window.
2: Black Cherry
Black Cherry tomatoes produces lots of 2.5cm (1inch) diameter fruits, clustered in large trusses on the indeterminate vines that can reach 150cm (5ft) tall. They are juicy and sweet and make a unique addition to your cherry tomato platter.
They range in colour from a deep mahogany brown to dark purple, though you will be lucky get the near black skin when you have plenty of warm, sunny weather. When fully ripe, they will often turn a rich eggplant colour.
Black Cherry mature in between 65 to 75 days on indeterminate vines, and they are a very high yielding variety. These open-pollinated tomatoes will outperform many hybridized cultivars.
Black Cherries are one of the easier black varieties to grow. They are resistant to many common tomato diseases, and make sure to provide sturdy trellising to hold up all the tomatoes you are going to get.
3: Indigo Rose
Developed by Oregon State University, Indigo Rose is considered by many to be the first “true” black tomato as it contains high levels of anthocyanin inside the fruit.
When given plenty of sun, these tomatoes become a deep purple-brown when ripe (though they remain green or red with little to no sun exposure). The fruits also soften when they are fully ripe.
The globe fruits mature in 75 days on long trusses hanging from the indeterminate vines. They are “saladette” tomatoes that weigh around 50g (1.7oz) each and the look and taste of Indigo Rose will remind you of plums.
4: Indigo Blue Chocolate
Another purple tinged tomato, Indigo Blue Chocolate have nearly black skins with dark red insides. They are a slicing tomato that weigh 28g to 56g (1-2 oz) and are very juicy and sweet. The tomatoes are very versatile and are good both fresh and cooked.
The indeterminate vines can reach 2m to 2.5m (7-8 ft) are very productive. They mature in around 80 days and need lots of sun to reach their full colour…which is convenient since Indigo Blue Chocolate are both sunburn and crack resistant.
Indigo Chocolate Rose also store very well and will last surprising long on the cupboard (remember, never keep tomatoes in the fridge!).
While no black tomato is truly black, some are less black than others. Here are some great black varieties that tend to have a more reddish-hue than that varieties listed above.
Like all black tomatoes, the varieties listed below will become darker with the more sunlight you can give.
5: Black Krim
This is by far the most popular black tomato that is grown. A native to Crimea (Krim), these black tomatoes are highly sought after by cool, short-season gardeners but they grow extremely well almost everywhere.
Black Krim are a beefsteak tomato that grow on indeterminate vines. They typically colour up to a deep purple with dark green tops, and deep red insides that look as delicious as they taste. In 80 days from transplant, you will be looking forward to a harvest of midsize tomatoes averaging 7.5cm (3 inches) in diameter and weighing 150g (5.3oz).
Black Krim are fairly easy to grow and are a good starting tomato if you are just getting in to black varieties. They can be used in a variety of dishes and are very good fresh or cooked.
6: Black Icicle
A very productive Roma (or paste) variety from the Ukraine, Black Icicle are great for making into sauce or cooking in your favorite recipe.
The fruits average 110g (4oz) with the classic elongated Roma shape. They have a really rich flavour that outcompetes many beefsteak varieties. Their colour ranges from burgundy to a rich purple colour which definitely darkens with plenty of sun exposure.
For a guaranteed harvest, start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before planting them outside. Make sure to provide adequate staking for these productive plants.
7: Cherokee Purple
Cherokee Purple is one of the old black varieties, and there is good reason it has been cultivated for over a century.
Its dusky rose-purple skin often has deep ribs. Make sure to provide plenty of sunlight (pruning the leaves at ripening to let the sun in can help) to get the richest colour possible. When cut, the deep red flesh is quite sweet and many describe it as having a smoky flavour. The fruits are quite large and can weigh 340g (12oz).
Cherokee Purple are very easy to grow and are another great “starter” tomato. As another selling feature, they have very good disease resistant.
8: Black Prince
As a USDA Zone 2 gardener, I am always excited to see cultivars originating from Siberia because I know they are well suited for my short, cool seasons. Black Prince is one of those tomatoes.
The fruits set very early, even in cool weather, meaning you can get a decent harvest even in the north. The fruits reach a dark maroon colour and you can tell they are ready to harvest when the shoulders turn dark green. The fruits are nice, round and uniform.
Black Prince have dark-hued pulp and they are excellent for fresh eating or for cooking into sauces or other tomato dishes.
Make sure to provide plenty of support for the indeterminate vines.
9: Black Brandywine
Brandywine are popular tomatoes and they come in variety of colours, and the black cultivar should not be ignored. Dating back to the early 1900s, the Black Brandywine is believed to be a cross of Brandywine and Fejee Improved (and early brown beefsteak).
Black Brandywine ripen to a blackish-purple colour on indeterminate, potato-leaved vines. The potatoes have a great taste and are very sweet.
These tomatoes can be either round or slightly flattened and quite large. They weigh in around 140g to 225g (5-8oz).
Black Brandywine typically mature in 80 to 90 days. Their large size makes them prone to cracking, so make sure to check them early to see how they are developing, and regularly monitor them to asses their size.
10: Black Pear
I always find pear shaped tomatoes a pleasure to eat (possible from my inclination towards pears over apples) so I’m pleased to include Black Pear on this list.
A mahogany-coloured pear-shaped tomato, Black Pears have a rich, lightly sweet flavour. They are around 7cm (2.75inches) in diameter and weigh between 180g and 220g (6-8oz).
They mature in 80 days on indeterminate vines with potato leaves.
Tomatoes With Black Accents
While black tomatoes are striking enough, if you really want to add some flare to your tomatoes then try growing one of these varieties that have black accents.
11: Dark Galaxy
Dark Galaxy are possible the most beautiful tomato I have ever seen. The dark purple-black tomatoes are spattered with red and flecked with yellow dots and look like a 3-dimensional galaxy in your hand. And the more sun you give them, the more enchanting they become.
Dark Galaxy have exceptional flavour and are very tangy and sweet and exceptionally juicy. They are a salad, or slicing, tomato and the fruits weigh roughly 110g (4oz), though some growers report smaller or larger growth. The plants mature in about 75 days from transplant and grow on indeterminate vines that reach up to 180cm (6ft). Even the vines have a rich purple tone to them!
12: Black Strawberry
As the name suggests, these tomatoes have the shape of strawberry, but instead of red they are a marble or blue, scarlet, gold, green and all the colours in between. They look like little jewels on the vine.
The fruits are small, around 28G (1oz), and they are super sweet (also like their namesake) with hint of grape and plumb flavour.
Black Strawberry tomatoes are very productive plants and they mature in 60 days from transplant, making them ideally suited for many climates and growing seasons.
13: Indigo Kumquat
These are another strikingly beautiful tomato. These small, 15g to 20g (1/2 to 3/4oz) tomato are orange (like a kumquat) with dark indigo shoulders. They are a sweet tomato with a bit of zippy tartness, too.
Indigo Kumquat produce a compact indeterminate plant that requires little care other than some light trellising. They grow well almost everywhere, including in poor soils and unfavorable tomato-growing conditions.
Harvest when the orange colour becomes uniform and the fruits start to soften.Even though they are not a true black tomato, you still get the antioxidant kick from the anthocyanin in the purple patches.
When you go to a grocery store, your choice of tomatoes is rather limited. You can choose between salad, beefsteak, cherries, or Romas…and they are almost undoubtably all red. When growing your own tomatoes, however, you have a vast treasury of seeds available to you so why not mix things up a bit this year, and grow a black tomato to add a little more colour (or lack of colour?) to your garden.
Cameron Jenkins moved from the city to a small farm where he lives with his wife and daughters. The farm is divided between the garden, pastures, hayfields, the start of an orchard, and 13 times as many pets as people. Their farm vision is to grow produce and raise animals in unison with nature. When Cameron is not farming (or writing about it) he spends his time playing with his children, reading, cooking, and napping with his pet pig.