Black Tomatoes: Is There a Difference in Taste?


Two black tomatoes, one leaning against the other.

Tomatoes are one of the most consumed veggies in the world. And it’s easy to see why. Not only are they juicy and scrumptious, but they’re also good for you.

People often assume tomatoes are only red. But, tomatoes actually come in various colors, including black. 

Seeing a black tomato for the first time might be startling. I know my interest was piqued. And topmost on my mind was the taste. Do black tomatoes taste different than other tomatoes?

Generally, black tomatoes have a more complex flavor, often with earthy, smoky, sweet tones.  Many black tomatoes are heirloom varieties. They have a deeper, richer flavor that is both intense and exceptional. You’ll often find black tomatoes described as having an “old-fashioned” tomato taste. They’re usually less acidic than red tomatoes.

Let’s dive deeper into these yummy fruits and see how color can play a role in their flavor.

Do Black Tomatoes Taste Different Than Other Tomatoes

At first glance, you may think all tomatoes taste the same. But there are differences between tomato varieties and color can play a part in those differences.

What Is a Black Tomato

Photo by Green Mount Girls / CC by

Before we talk about taste, let’s go over what is a black tomato.

Most black tomato varieties are indeterminate. This means the fruit grows and ripens at different times throughout the season. To learn about when a black tomato ripens, take a look at the article I wrote on this.

Not only are they indeterminate, but many black varieties are also heirloom tomatoes.  As such, they have a shorter shelf life than your typical red tomato. This is one reason you find a limited selection, if any, of black tomatoes in grocery stores.

And, according to Science Direct, black tomatoes also have higher lycopene amounts.

Although black tomatoes are called “black”, most are, in fact, not truly black in color. Rather, their colors tend more toward deep purples, blues, browns, and reds. These deeper tones give the appearance of being black in color

The varieties with the deepest colors have higher anthocyanin levels.  Anthocyanin is a flavonoid and antioxidant. It’s the compound that gives fruits and vegetables their deep colors.

But, not every black tomato has a high level of anthocyanin. So, if you want more antioxidants, then choose varieties with the darkest skins.

Thankfully, though anthocyanins contribute to color – and health – they don’t impact flavor. So lighter colors will be as tasty as the darker varieties.

What Do Black Tomatoes Taste Like?

Black tomatoes tend to have more complex flavors. Acids and sugars are often considered balanced.

But what does that mean?

All tomatoes are either sweet, tangy, tart, or balanced, depending on the tomato’s makeup.

Tomatoes have a combination of sugars, acids, and volatile compounds. Volatile compounds give tomatoes their aroma and special flavor. A tomato’s taste depends on how these elements are combined.

The more sugar in the tomato, the sweeter the tomato will be. On the other hand, the more acidic the tomato, the tangier or tarter the tomato will be.

Interested in growing black tomatoes? Take a look at my beginner’s guide. You’ll find it helpful.

When it comes to black tomatoes, the flavor depends on the variety. 

Black tomatoes are often said to be meaty tomatoes with an “old-fashioned” tomato taste. In other words, a kind of straight-from-your-grandmother’s-garden taste. 

Many black tomatoes have an intense flavor that’s smoky and sweet, with a touch of acid.  They’re usually less acidic than red tomatoes. And are often thought to be more balanced between sugars and acids.

A black tomato’s robust flavor intensifies as it ripens and darkens.

Multiple tomatoes of various colors.
Photo by USDA / CC by

How Color Relates to Taste

According to Science Daily, “Researchers have found that pigments controlling the color of tomatoes also play a role in determining their flavor.” 

In other words, different color pigments can produce different amounts of sugars and acids. This, in turn, affects a tomato’s flavor.

This chart gives a general idea of the different tomato colors and their respective flavors.

COLORTASTE
RedTypically juicy with a classic tomato flavor that intensifies as the tomato cooks down. Usually higher acidity.
PinkMedium acidity – less than red but more than other colors. Tends to be sweeter and a little milder.
BlackTend to have an earthy, smoky sweetness. Less acidic than red tomatoes. Flavors are complex with acids and sugars more balanced. Often more nutrient dense.
OrangeHas a mild, fruity taste with a citrusy note. Lower in acidity. Higher beta carotene levels.
YellowHas a mild, sweet flavor. Lower acidity. Lower levels of lycopene.

3 Varieties of Black Tomatoes

Black Krim – Black Krim tomatoes are a popular heirloom variety.  They’re prolific producers of large reddish-purple tomatoes.  The more sun, the darker this tomato gets. Black Krims have a sweet, bold, smoky flavor.

Cherokee Purple – The Cherokee Purple was one of the first dark colored tomatoes available to purchase commercially.  Another large heirloom variety, this tomato has a dusky purple-pink skin with rich, red flesh. Cherokee Purples have a slightly sweet, smoky, complex flavor.

Black Plum – Black Plum tomatoes are shaped similarly to Roma tomatoes.  They’re heavy producers of deep burgundy/brownish-red colored fruit.  The flavor is sweet and tangy.

For additional black tomato varieties, check out my article on the different choices.

Final Thoughts

  • A tomato’s flavor is a  combination of sugar, acid, and volatile compounds. 
  • Tomato color can play a role in how much sugar and acid a tomato has. This can affect a tomato’s flavor.
  • Black tomatoes are often said to have an intense robust flavor with notes of both sweetness and acidity. They’re often described as having an “old-fashioned” tomato taste.
  • Black tomatoes are generally less acidic than red tomatoes.

If you enjoyed this article on whether there’s a difference in the taste of black tomatoes and found it helpful, feel free to share it.  

Angela

Hi! My name is Angela Carr. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb!

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