What Color Says About Tomato Flavor

Take the guesswork out of selecting tomato varieties by understanding how tomato color affects flavor. This simple guide will help you choose the perfect tomatoes to satisfy your taste buds.

When it comes to tomatoes, color plays a significant role in determining their flavor profile. Let’s explore what each color signifies:

Red Tomatoes

  • Acidity: Red tomatoes typically have higher acidity levels.
  • Flavor: They offer a classic tomato taste with plenty of juiciness. The flavor intensifies when cooked down to sauce or paste, making them ideal for slicing, salsa, canning, sauce, paste, juice, and salads.
  • Examples: Atkinson, Better Boy, Bonnie Original, Celebrity, Heinz Classic, Juliet, Red Beefsteak, Roma, Rutgers, San Marzano.

Pink Tomatoes

  • Acidity: Pink tomatoes have a medium acid level, less than red but more than striped tomatoes.
  • Flavor: They are sweeter and milder than red tomatoes. Several consistent taste-test winners belong to the pink group, such as Pink Brandywine and German Johnson.
  • Use: Pink tomatoes are perfect for slicing, eating fresh, stewing, freezing, and canning (following USDA guidelines).
  • Examples: Bradley, German Queen, Martha Washington, Pink Brandywine, Pink Girl.

Yellow/Orange Tomatoes

  • Acidity: These tomatoes have a low to medium acid level.
  • Flavor: Their flavors range from sweet, almost candy-like, to fruity.
  • Use: Yellow/orange tomatoes are great for slicing, eating fresh, salads, juicing, and salsa. Canning yellow tomatoes is safe as long as you follow USDA guidelines.
  • Examples: Golden Jubilee, Lemon Boy, Sun Gold, Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear.

Black/Purple Tomatoes

  • Acidity: Black/purple tomatoes typically have a higher acid level, similar to red tomatoes.
  • Flavor: They offer a complex flavor that chefs adore, describing it as “smoky” and “rich.” Some gardeners struggle to share these tomatoes because they are incredibly delicious.
  • Use: Slicing, eating fresh, salads, and cooking for sauce. Black/purple tomatoes make stunning additions to any dish. In Russia, Black Prince tomatoes are pressed to make an extract called Black Prince Tomato Oil.
  • Examples: Black Cherry, Black Prince, Cherokee Purple, Chocolate Sprinkles.

Striped Tomatoes

  • Acidity: Striped tomatoes generally have low acidity and high sugar content.
  • Flavor: They have a sweet and almost fruity taste.
  • Use: Striped tomatoes are perfect for slicing, eating fresh, and salsa. While traditional canning recipes discourage using striped tomatoes, USDA guidelines don’t make such a distinction as long as you add a source of acid to the jars. However, these tomatoes are too delicious and visually appealing to resist eating fresh.
  • Example: Mr. Stripey

Heinz Classic Heirloom Tomato
Heinz Classic Heirloom Tomato

Tomato, or work of art? The sweet, mild-flavored Mr. Stripey is both!
Tomato, or work of art? The sweet, mild-flavored Mr. Stripey is both!

Now that you know how different tomato colors correlate with their flavors, you can confidently choose the perfect tomatoes for your next culinary adventure. Enjoy the delightful variety tomatoes have to offer!