Are There Seven Types Of Tomato To Grow In The UK? Or 47 Like Some Websites Say? In this Article I Explain the Types And Varieties To Grow In The UK.
How many different types of tomato are there? I believe there are seven types of tomato. But the problem people have in answering this question is bering able to determine the difference between type, variety and other distinguishing characteristics.
What Do We Mean By Tomato Type?
In botanical nomenclature, a type “is that element to which the name of a taxon is permanently attached.” That assumes there is a reference specimen in a herbarium to which we can refer if need be. I’m not sure if tomato types have been defined this precisely or if herbarium specimens exist to define the types I’m going to refer to. From her eon this is my opinion only. There is no science behind my reasoning EXCEPT, if there were herbarium reference specimens I think they would be as I am going to describe. 🙂
Of course some people might say that there are only a handful of tomato types, red, yellow and black toms! And maybe they are right, though I think it’s more complicated than that. And other people might say there are heirloom types and modern F1 type tomatoes. It’s a point a view, but I think it’s too simplistic.
So let’s look at my take on tomato types.
The First Four Tomato Types
Conventional “Round” Tomatoes
This is the conventional spherical tomato that grows around 8 fruit to the lb. It’s the one we see as an online icon, emoji, or in children’s books that most off the world would recognise as a tomato. They are often called vine tomatoes, though I believe that is a misnomer as all tomatoes grow on a “vine”!
These are the toms used for sauces and pastes. They are widely grown outdoors in Italy for the canning/bottling/paste industry.
These are the small and sweet toms we see in the shops, and if you get lots of sunshine and add potash they are even sweeter. They are mainly used in salads.
Weighing up to a pound or two, with plenty of thick flesh beefsteak toms are often used for sandwiches. A well known beefsteak variety is Marmande and I wrote an article on this variety.
More Tomatoes Often Described As Tomato Types
These are like a cross between plum and cherry tomatoes, they are smaller than cherries and the skins are thicker. But are they a type? Or are they just a form of cherry or plum tomatoes? And does it really matter?
Campari toms are bigger than cherry but smaller than plum. They are very juicy and sweet but ar they really a type?
Oxheart are a heritage variety that’s shaped like strawberries but big like beefsteak tomato. I regard them s a sort of beefsteak tom.
More Tomato Types? Or Are We Being Imaginative?
In September each year I sold all the remaining toms I had on my plants as green tomatoes. They all went to the local Asian community where they soon became chutney and other delicious sauces and masalas. the thing is any type of tomato can be sold green. It doesn’t need a specific type. And you can harvest them all year .. jus pick any tomato before to starts to ripen.
However, a few tomatoes are naturally green when ripe and never colour up. And a few have green stripes.
Often also known as Roman tomatoes I believe these are best described as plum tomatoes.
About the size of a cherry but nothing more than a cherry tomato in my view.
Heirloom toms are any old variety that is open pollinated and hasn’t been crossed to create an F1. They can be round, beefsteak plum oil any other type but the defining characteristic is that they are old open pollinated varieties and hence genetically true to themselves.
In my view this is just another type of beefsteak tomato.
This is a different species. Solanum pimpinellifolium, commonly known as the currant tomato or pimp, is a wild species of tomato native to Ecuador and Peru but is naturalised elsewhere, such as the Galápagos Islands.
There are red, yellow and orange pear tomatoes. To me they are just a shape variation on the normal round tomato.
Vine tomatoes aka vine ripened tomatoes
The name vine ripened tomato is quite misleading. All tomatoes grow on vines (the tomato stems and branches are called vines by commercial growers). And arguably they start to ripen on them as part of the growing process. So every tomato is vine ripened!
But supermarkets use the words vine ripened to imply something special as if others are inferior. Then they sell them on the vine, as trusses of ripe tomatoes. But few tomatoes all ripen at the same time on a truss and they are often helped with ethylene spray or gas to ripen them. It’s not the most natural way in my view.
Some tomatoes ripen faster than others. It’s a bit like having early, second early and main crop potatoes! It’s a variety thing and doesn’t make them a different type of tomato.
I’d argue all tomatoes are of one speciality or another. But again it’s a team used to try to market some varieties over another.
Some African tomato varieties such as Hausa are a sort of oblong banana shape.
Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes?
This is a topic for another day.
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