The Charm of Cherry Tomatoes - the Best Varieties to Grow

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Cherry tomatoes

The first vegetable I ever grew was a robust cherry tomato, and this started me on my way to a lifetime of growing good things to eat. I still enjoy growing cherry tomatoes every year, and recommend them to gardeners who are just getting started, because there is little that can go wrong when growing cherry tomatoes.

For example, because of the smallness of the fruits, tomato plants can easily provide ripening cherry tomatoes with the nutrients they need, so blossom end rot is a rare event. Disease tolerance tends to be good, too, and some heirloom varieties like 'Matt's Wild Cherry' even resist late blight. The blossoms of cherry tomatoes tend to be small, which means the pollen must travel a shorter distance for good pollination to occur. As a result, cherry tomatoes tend to set fruit better in hot or cold weather compared to larger-fruited varieties.

Cherry plum tomatoes

The Best Cherry Tomato Varieties to Grow

And then there is the flavor factor. Popular cherry tomatoes like 'Sungold' often win taste tests, and rack up high Brix (sugar) ratings, too. Among varieties that have earned Awards of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, 'Sungold' can have Brix ratings of 9.3, with even higher levels for plum-shaped 'Rosada'. Dainty little tomatoes that taste fruity are more likely to be eaten raw, with all of their vitamins and other phytonutrients intact, making them one of the most nutritious crops you can grow.

There are special varieties for growing in baskets, but the best cherry tomatoes for gardens are indeterminate (cordon) varieties with a vine-like growth habit. For this reason it is wise to grow them in in pairs with good support from sturdy cages, because cherry tomatoes grow into vigorous plants. If you use a greenhouse or high tunnel, by all means try 'Sakura', which is often grown in high tunnels and sold in beautiful clusters at farmers' markets.

Cherry tomatoes 'Mountain Magic'

If you need late blight resistance for cherry tomatoes grown outdoors, 'Favorita', 'Jasper', or 'Mountain Magic' will deliver a great crop. For new excitement in cherry tomatoes, there is heart-shaped red 'Tomatoberry Garden' from Japan, perhaps the cutest of all cherry tomatoes.

Dried and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes have little solid flesh and lots of bitter seeds, so they are not the best candidates for canning or juicing. About half of our cherry tomatoes get eaten from a bowl kept on the kitchen table, and the rest go into the food dehydrator or the freezer. Cherry tomatoes must be cut into halves or quarters to dry well, but the raisin-like tidbits are great to have around for adding to a long list of dishes from pasta salad to pizza.

Cherry tomatoes 'Sungold'

You can freeze cherry tomatoes whole, but a better approach is to make large batches of roasted cherry tomatoes during harvest season, and freeze those that are not eaten right away. The process is simple: place clean, whole cherry tomatoes in a large baking pan, toss with a light coating of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 45 minutes. Some moisture evaporates as the tomatoes collapse into soft pillows, which helps to concentrate their flavour. Best of all, when packed into freezer containers, roasted cherry tomatoes take up much less space than if they had been frozen whole.

By Barbara Pleasant

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Comments

 
"I gave up with cherry tomatoes, I got more fruit out of a normal tomato plant than out of 4 cherry tomato plants."
mik on Wednesday 2 April 2014
"I'm looking for a yellow or orange cherry tomato with exceptional taste. I've grown several (small round, pear, oblong) and they all look nice with different colors and shapes, but the taste was rather bland. Do you or anyone else have any super taste recommendations for yellow and orange cherry tomatoes?"
Marsha on Wednesday 2 April 2014
"If you have not tried Sun Gold, it should be at the top of your list for yellow/orange cherry tomatoes with exceptional flavor."
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 4 April 2014
"Marsha, I grew several Orange Berry plants last year and the fruits were lovely, really juicy and sweet, and cropped very heavily too. If you are in the UK, you can buy the seeds from Wilkinsons"
Andi on Friday 4 April 2014
"Hi Marsha, I grow Sun Sugar (Hybrid-highly productive) and its like eating candy. For a colour variety I grow Black Cherry (Heritage) which is larger and has a pretty good taste. I have yet to find an incredible tasting red variety."
Val on Friday 4 April 2014
"Hi Marsha, I love my cherry tomatoes and in the past used cages, but last year I experimented with tripod bamboo supports. My question seems silly to ask but I want to make sure I am clear. When you say "plant in pairs" do you plant two plants to coexist in the same cage or just in pairs close to each other? P.S. thanks for the answer on the best variety of peas for my climate."
Patty on Wednesday 9 April 2014
"Thanks everyone for your yellow/orange cherry tomato recommendations. I plan to try all of them this year! Marsha"
Marsha on Thursday 10 April 2014
"Patty, because most cherry tomatoes grow such long vines, it is practical to let two grow together, in the same or closely spaced cages. Very vigorous varieties would need their own cage."
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 11 April 2014
"I never thought I would enjoy an orange cherry tomato more than Sungold but then I was at a tomato tasting and tried a variety called Orange Paruche. It wasincredible. I grew it last year in my garden and kept my fingers crossed that it was as good as I remembered and it was. I have two growing again this year and it will be in my garden every year from now on. It has the sweetness of Sungold and looks exactly like it but it has a more complex, richer taste. I also love the cherry tomatoes that are called black or purple. At that same tasting I tried a variety called Sunchocola. Everyone was raving about it. It is hands down the best tasting black cherry tomato I have ever tried. It has the richness of the black tomatoes along with sweetness. It is a beautiful deep burgundy color. For a green cherry, Green Doctors Frosted is my favorite. For a white cherry, I like Snow White. My favorite red cherry is called Sweet Baby Girl. It is delicious and everyone who tries it, loves it. I also love Isis Candy. All of the above are winners for sure. "
Pam on Wednesday 6 May 2015
"Wow, motivating post to get my Cherry tomatoes going. Thanks for the insight on different varietals."
mrdirtfarmer on Thursday 30 March 2017

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