If you’re looking for a tomato variety that’s both delicious and beautiful, then you should try one of the many purple tomato varieties. These tomatoes are among the most flavorful available, with a deep and complex flavor that is perfectly balanced between sweet and sour. They also have an earthy aroma and an almost-smoky taste. So if you’re looking for something new to try in your garden this year, be sure to add some purple tomatoes!
How do you make a purple tomato?
Genes are typically divided up into different elements – the coding region, and a promoter that controls how they are turned off/on. The genes the scientists introduced into the purple tomato contained the coding sequences of regulatory proteins from Antirrhinum majus (garden snapdragon) that control anthocyanin biosynthesis, which gives the flowers their purple color. These genes were driven by a fruit-specific promoter from tomatoes, so that they would be activated only in the tomato fruits and not in the whole plant, to make sure there were no side effects on the development of the tomato plants. The genes were introduced into the tomato plants using Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a species of bacteria that infects plants by inserting a segment of its DNA into the plant cell which becomes incorporated into the plant’s genome. Researchers can use Agrobacterium to introduce desired genes into plants by cloning the gene into the segment of DNA that the bacteria transfer to the plant. (source)
1. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
The Cherokee Purple Tomato is undoubtedly the most famous purple tomato variety because of its stunning peel color and gourmet taste. These big, beefsteak-type tomatoes are delicious and juicy, consistently ranking among the best-tasting tomato varieties. The Cherokee Purple Tomatoes were originally cultivated by the Cherokee people in eastern Tennessee, according to North American heirloom cultivar standards.
2. Black Krim Tomatoes
The Black Krim Tomato is a dark purple tomato with a rich flavor that has been appreciated for its intensely complex taste and dark peel coloration. These purple tomatoes have a smoky, tangy taste with a deep crimson-green-brown peel. On long-vining indeterminate tomato plants, Black Krim tomatoes develop black spots when they are ripe. Black Krim is an old heirloom variety originating from the city of Krymsk in Eastern Europe, perhaps dating back to the Middle Ages.
3. Indigo Rose Tomato
The Indigo Rose Tomato is a dark purple-skinned cherry tomato. Each tomato weighs about 2 ounces and has a red reverse color with a purple-brown blush (due on anthocyanin antioxidants). Indigo Rose tomatoes have an even sweet-tart flavor profile. The plants are disease resistant and semi-determinate, with vines stretching up to 5 feet long. Professor Jim Myers at Oregon State University created the Indigo Rose Tomato.
4. Purple Boy Tomato
The Purple Boy Tomato is a hybrid tomato with the flavor of Cherokee Purple. This cultivar was developed to enhance disease resistance and heat tolerance in order to create more robust, longer-lasting plants. Indeterminate vining plants produce purple boy tomatoes. Tomatoes from this variety tend to be more uniform than Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes.
5. Purple Calabash Tomato
The Purple Calabash Tomato is a huge, irregularly shaped beefsteak tomato that dates back to the 1800s. The flavor is sophisticated and acidic, with a richness associated with heritage tomato varieties. This tomato is delectable fresh but also makes fantastic pasta and tomato sauce. Plants are big and indeterminate, necessitating stakes and a robust tomato cage.
6. Purple Bumble Bee
The Purple Bumble Bee Tomato is a striped-skinned cherry tomato variety. The fruits are small clusters and have a wonderful sweet taste. Indeterminate, open-pollinated plants that grow quickly.
7. Carbon Tomato
The Carbon Tomato is a purple tomato that’s quickly gaining popularity among tomato lovers. These large, beefsteak-type tomatoes have a red-black peel, a creamy texture, and a rich, complex flavor with undertones of sweetness. The fruits resist cracking and catfacing better than other big purple tomatoes. Carbon Tomatoes are vining, indeterminate plants that need support to grow on.
8. Black Cherry Tomato
The Black Cherry Tomato is a cherry-colored purple-brown cultivar with a rich, complex flavor in its tiny tomatoes. Indeterminate plants are resistant to disease and produce clusters of fruit all season long. These prolific plants are open-pollinated.
9. Chef’s Choice Black Tomato
The Chef’s Choice Black Tomato is a beefsteak-type hybrid tomato with a dark green/brown/black peel. These tomatoes have a meaty texture and good flavor. The disease-resistant plants are indeterminate, but they don’t grow as long as some heirloom tomatoes.
10. Black Zebra Cherry Tomato
The Black Zebra Cherry Tomato is a small purple tomato with black stripes. This new hybrid tomato has indeterminate vines that are extremely robust. These tomatoes have dark red-purple coloring and green vertical lines. The flavor is rich, with a nice blend of sweetness and sourness. Each tomato weighs about 3-4 ounces.
11. Chocolate Cherry Tomato
The Chocolate Cherry Tomato is a cherry-type tomato with sweet, delicious fruit. The tomatoes develop in clusters on long, indeterminate vines. This type is more resistant to cracking than other purple cherry tomatoes.
12. Paul Robeson Tomato
The Paul Robeson Tomato is a gourmet red-purple beefsteak-type tomato with a rich, complex flavor. This tomato has been recognized for its unique taste that balances deep sweetness with lively acidity. This Russian variety is named after American singer, lawyer, and football player Paul Robeson.
13. Black Beauty Tomato
The Black Beauty Tomato is a purplish black tomato. The color of these globe-type open-pollinated seeds is comparable to that of the renowned Indigo Rose Tomatoes, owing to the anthocyanin antioxidant content. This tomato’s insides are even darker in hue than other tomatoes. With a delicious, juicy texture, this fruit has an outstanding flavor.
14. Rosella Tomato
The Rosella Tomato is a purple cherry-type tomato. These minuscule tomatoes are found in clusters and are ideal for snacking or culinary usage. The sweetness and acidity of the flavor are nicely balanced. Gourmet Genetics, a firm known for producing delicious tomatoes, developed the Rosella Tomato.
15. Brad’s Black Heart
Brad’s Black Heart Tomato is a purple oxheart-type tomato cultivar. These tomatoes have meaty, compact, and smooth flesh that is reminiscent of traditional tomatoes. Plants are large and indeterminate, requiring support. Brad’s Black Heart Tomato was created at Wild Boar Farms.
16. Midnight Snack Tomato
The tomato known as the “Midnight Snack Tomato” is a cherry-type hybrid that develops an exquisite dark purple/indigo color. Indeterminate plants produce these delicious tomatoes all throughout the year.
17. Black Brandywine Tomato
The Black Brandywine Tomato is a purple-brown beefsteak tomato cultivar. This tomato has an outstanding taste and is said to be a cross between the delicious Brandywine Tomato and the Beefsteak Tomato (two well-known heirloom cultivars). Dr. Harold E. Martin, a retired dentist, bred the Black Brandywine tomato in Westtown, Pennsylvania, in the late 1920s.
18. Cherokee Chocolate
The Cherokee Chocolate Tomato is a darker version of the classic Cherokee Purple tomato. The flesh is smooth and hard, with a delicious fruity flavor. Heirloom tomato expert Craig LeHoullier first grew this variety in 1995, along with the Cherokee Purple.
19. Chocolate Pear Tomato
The Chocolate Pear Tomato is a cherry-type tomato with uneven green-purple-brown tones. In favorable conditions, the fruits grow longer and acquire a pear form. These tiny tomatoes have a robust, old-fashioned, somewhat-tart tomato taste.
20. Indigo Apple Tomato
The Indigo Apple Tomato is a cherry tomato with a deep blue color. This variety has a sweet flavor and is perfect for snacking or adding to salads. The plant produces an abundance of fruit throughout the season. Blue tomato plants were first developed by Japanese researcher Shigenao Maruoka in 2009.
21. Dr. Wyche’s Purple
Dr. Wyche’s Purple tomato was developed by John R. Stamps in Greenville, South Carolina, in the 1970s. It is a cross between the Prudens Purple tomato and an unknown tomato cultivar (possibly the Mortgage Lifter tomato). These globe-shaped tomatoes have dark purple skin and flesh with green shoulders when ripe. The flavor is well-balanced, with a touch of sweetness.
22. Blue Berries Tomato
The Blue Berries tomato is a cherry tomato with blue skin and flesh. These small tomatoes are incredibly sweet and perfect for snacking or adding to salads. The plant produces an abundance of fruit throughout the season.
Purple Tomato FAQs
What causes the purple pigment?
Anthocyanins are a kind of chemical. They’re often referred to as anthocyanin. The specific anthocyanins in tomatoes include primarily petunidin, although malvidin and delphinidin are also present. The presence of acyl (sugar) groups modifies the anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are flavonoids from the same class as berry extracts, according to Ahn et al. (2010). Quercetin, kaempferol, naringenin, catechin, and isoflavones are all examples of antioxidants in this class. Phenols or phenolics are similar chemicals with distinct chemical structures but similar functions. In our tomato lines, many different types of phenolics and flavonoids are increased as well as anthocyanins.
How do the anthocyanin levels compare to other fruits and vegetables?
The amounts of anthocyanins in fruit are difficult to assess because they are influenced by a variety of things, including cultivar, growing conditions, and extraction and measurement procedures. Fresh purple tomato fruits have about 1/10 or 1/20 the total anthocyanin content of blueberries (in mg per gram of fruit). Blueberries are one of the greatest sources of anthocyanins. The average American consumes 12.5 mg anthocyanin per day (blueberries have 1-3 mg/g fresh weight, purple tomatoes have 0.1-0.3 mg/g FWfresh weight, so ten purple cherry tomatoes are required to provide an ‘average’ anthocyanin supply).
Tomatoes, on the other hand, have a much higher concentration of anthocyanin than other fruits. Tomatoes are frequently eaten in the United States, with Americans consuming about 90 pounds each per year of fresh and processed tomatoes, which is second only to potatoes in fruits and vegetable consumption. In 2001, Americans consumed less than 1 pound of fresh and frozen blueberries per person yearly.
Is the anthocyanin distributed throughout the fruit?
It’s only on the skin and outer flesh.
What are the reported health benefits of anthocyanins?
According to Emeritus Professor Ron Wrolstad of Oregon State University, “There is a lot of anecdotal and epidemiological evidence suggesting that dietary anthocyanin pigments and polyphenolics may have preventive and therapeutic effects in a variety of human illnesses.” Over the last century, popular press coverage of the “French paradox” has brought to light that certain populations of red-wine drinkers in France and Italy have significantly lower rates of heart disease (CHD) than their North American and Northern European counterparts. It is generally accepted that red wine phenolics play a role…. The anthocyanin pigments of Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) have been used for millennia to boost eyesight and combat circulatory diseases. In addition to their ability to prevent and treat chronic diseases, flavonoids have several other health benefits. Flavonoids such as catechins, quercetin, and rutin are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and enhance memory. There is preliminary evidence that certain anthocyanins and flavonoids have anti-inflammatory effects, with reports suggesting that orally ingested anthocyanins may help with diabetes and ulcers as well as fight viruses and infections. The antioxidant activity of flavonoids is thought to be responsible for these substances’ beneficial effects; in particular, their capacity to scavenge and trap free radicals that damage biomolecules. Although the common belief is that the health advantages of anthocyanins are due to their antioxidant activity, some recent study findings indicate that anthocyanins may not operate directly as antioxidants but rather in a more complicated method.
Do purple tomatoes have the carotenoids found in regular tomatoes?
Yes, the underlying carotenoid pigment may still be seen in purple-fruited types. Lycopene is the red component of tomatoes. Beta-carotene or prolycopene are present in orange tomatoes, whereas yellow ones might contain other carotenoids such as delta-carotene. Carotenoids have antioxidant properties and are thought to provide similar health benefits to flavonoids.
Why do the tomatoes have areas of the fruit that are not purple?
Anthocyanin is generated only in the fruit’s exposed regions, which are only those that receive sunlight. When the fruit is shaded by a leaf or the calyx, or at the bottom of the fruit, anthocyanin synthesis does not occur. If you select a fruit and expose its non-purple region to sunshine, it should develop in about a week.
Does the anthocyanin affect the taste of the tomato?
Some of the anthocyanin-rich lines have a strong flavor to them. We don’t know whether it’s due to the presence of anthocyanins or other chemical changes in the fruit. At least one of the genes involved is a regulatory gene that interacts with several biosynthetic pathways, therefore it’s possible that numerous chemical changes in the tomato have occurred, possibly to accommodate increased anthocyanin production.
The fruit in the breeding program may also be influenced by other ‘wild’ genes that were carried over on the chromosome with the genes that trigger anthocyanin synthesis. We’ve found individual plants that produce tomatoes with moderate amounts of anthocyanin and good flavor thanks to crossing extremely high anthocyanin strains to tomato cultivars known for their excellent taste. We expect to be able to create stable lines with delicious flavor and a reasonable amount of anthocyanin from these unique plants or others like them.
Were genetic engineering techniques used to develop these lines?
No, conventional crossing and selection methods are being employed. This is perhaps the most misunderstood part of the project, and we’ll say it one last time: These tomatoes are not GMO.
What are the genes involved and where did they come from?
Introgression of genes from the wild Solanum lycopersicoides, S. chilense, and S. cheesemanii into cultivated tomato was accomplished by other researchers. We found that when you combine these genes, you generate a pigment increase. The ‘Purple Smudge’ variety contains a gene similar to Aft but it comes from a distinct wild species (Solanum peruvianum).
What happens when you cook the tomatoes or make juice from them?
When the fruit is cooked, anthocyanins dissolve in water and leach out of the skin. Juice made from a red berry with purple skin may be mistaken for tomato juice. We are only at the start of discovering what can be done with these tomatoes, though.