How Do I Choose the Best Orange Tomatoes?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Orange tomatoes differ from the tomatoes traditionally grown in backyards and seen in grocery stores mainly by their color. The best way to choose orange tomatoes depends on whether you’re selecting the tomatoes from a store shelf for use in home recipes or choosing tomato varieties to plant in a home garden. In either instance, there will be no shortage of choices, and choosing the best orange tomatoes is not difficult if a few pertinent facts are kept in mind. A vibrant color is a good sign, whether the tomato is a variety that comes in orange, yellow, purple, or red, and a sweet scent and a firm but giving skin are also important, with no cracks, wrinkles or bruised spots.

An orange tomato in a grocery store could be either an heirloom variety, a type that has been grown since 1940 or before, or it could be a newer breed developed by an agricultural scientist that has a much higher beta-carotene content than the more common red tomato. The increased level of beta-carotene gives these specially bred orange tomatoes their special hue. Some heirloom varieties sport grooves and lines and unusual shapes or markings. Heirlooms can be softer than other types of tomatoes grown and sold today, but they should not be squishy. A softer heirloom tomato will have a juicier interior.

The smaller cherry tomatoes also come in a variety of colors, including orange, with some of the sweetest being orange or orange-yellow. One of the sweetest types available, Sun Gold, is one of the most favored orange tomatoes for its pleasing taste. Other favorites are the Orange Pixie, Flamme, Tangella and Sunsugar varieties. Like their larger and redder relatives, cherry tomatoes should be judged on their firm outer skin and the lack of bruises, blemishes and cracks.

Larger varieties of orange tomatoes include Orange Strawberry, which is shaped like a big strawberry; Orange Banana, which is also named for its shape; Verna Orange; Russian Persimmon; and Persimmon. A variety called Kentucky Beefsteak is a regular-size orange tomato with green markings. In choosing orange tomato seeds for a fruit harvest at home, whether heirloom or modern varieties, a gardener should look at the specific variety's sun and water requirements as well as how long they will take before producing fruit and how much fruit they tend to produce.

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