Van Wisdom: Which tomato should I use?

Posted on May 9th, 2022

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit…. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. When it comes to backyard gardens, there are 2 things that are a must… tomatoes and there better be basil. Here is a little Van Wisdom about choosing the type of tomato to grow for what you are making in the kitchen. Asking people what variety of tomato their favorite is is like asking what type of toothpaste you use… it’s very personal and everyone has a why. Here is a quick guide to get you on the right path.

Best Tomatoes for Sandwiches:
The best time to make a sandwich is in summer… when you can put fresh tomatoes on it. The hybrid varieties like Big Boy, Beefmaster, Celebrity, Supersteak are all your quintessential perfectly round fruit that is easy to slice and easy to put on your favorite sandwich. All of them are very similar and again choice has to do with personal experience and tradition. There are a couple of heirloom varieties that check the sandwich box too. Brandywine, German Johnson, and Mortgage Lifter are all great varieties as well. These are all going to be VERY LARGE tomatoes… like one slice from them should cover a whole roll!

Best Tomatoes for Salads:
It must be Cherry or Grape Tomatoes for salads… you will not go wrong with Black Cherry, Sun Gold, Sweet 100, Grape, or Yellow Grape tomatoes. The cherry types are small usually perfectly round fruit with thin skin that is touted as VERY sweet.  Both the yellow grape and grape are just that… oval, oblong grape-shaped.  The grape types have a lower water content, are considered meaty, and have a balanced flavor like their large counterparts.

Best Tomatoes for the sauce:
This is one we get asked all the time, simple…San Marzano.  No. Questions. About. It!  San Marzano makes such great sauce it is designated as the official Tomato for Neapolitan pizza… aka “New Haven Style”.  A plum type of fruit is balanced between acidity and sweetness, is very meaty, and has discrete seed cavities that make it easy to remove the seeds.  Ok well, there are other tomatoes for sauce as well… Roma is another great option with similar characteristics that make it great for sauces as well.

Remember tomatoes like it warm… make sure the soil is at least 60 degrees and nighttime temps do not go below 50 before planting.  Even a couple of cool nights can affect your harvest!