Cherry tomatoes are slightly smaller and sweeter than conventional tomatoes. They are a popular variety of tomato all over the world, and they can be found in a wide assortment of dishes from Mexico to Asia. They are also remarkably easy to grow, and they mature quickly in temperate zones. Since cherry tomatoes can get costly at the grocery store, some consumers prefer to grow them at home, where they can flourish like weeds under the right conditions.
Many cherry tomatoes are about the size of a thumb tip, and sometimes somewhat larger. They are often about cherry sized, which is probably how the small tomatoes got their name. They are round to oblong, with colors which may range from green-streaked heirloom varieties to rich, glossy red. Despite being small in size, cherry tomatoes are packed with flavor, and they are often quite sweet to boot.
There are a number of uses for cherry tomatoes. They can be used like regular tomatoes in a number of recipes, although cooks should take the sweetness into account. They are excellent in salads and other appetizers, and can be used whole or cut in half. Some cooks enjoy roasting or grilling them, while others eat them raw as snack tomatoes. This wiseGEEK author happens to like them in guacamole and salsas. The sweetness of cherry tomatoes can complement a wide range of foods, and it intensifies with cooking.
To grow cherry tomatoes at home, start by sprouting seedlings in a greenhouse or purchasing seedlings from a garden store. Plant the seedlings after the last frost in rich soil worked with compost and mulch. The plants prefer a bright, sunny spot with minimal wind, and they should be staked so that the vines have room to grow. Staking also keeps the fruit off the ground. Water the cherry tomatoes well when planting, and water every two to three days. Try to keep water off the leaves, and fertilize approximately every two weeks.
Within weeks, the seedlings will start to produce small yellow flowers, which will mature into cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes can be picked when they are glossy and evenly colored, except in the case of streaked heirloom tomatoes. A handful of plants will produce a large volume of the small tomatoes, especially once they really get going in the hot summer months. In cooler climates, cherry tomatoes do best in a greenhouse, especially if temperatures get below 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).