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August/September 2009

Getting to Know: Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes aren’t just round and red anymore. They’ve gone from garden variety to exotic, offering both new types and heirlooms such as the following 12. Buy cherry tomatoes that have been ripened on the vine, if you can find them.

Red Cherry

As cherry tomatoes go, this common supermarket variety is large—nearly inches in diameter—and “quite firm” with a “pleasant, balanced acidity.” Widely available and reliably good throughout the year, the Red Cherry is good raw or cooked.

Pink Cherry

Large, olive-shaped, and pink, the Pink Cherry won few fans among tasters, who found it “mealy and mushy” with “watered-down sweetness” and “almost no acidity.” An heirloom, the Pink Cherry can be difficult to track down. Don’t bother.

Green Grape

This plump tomato looks like a miniature watermelon, a fact that may have influenced tasters’ comments. They described it as “juicy and melonlike” and compared it to “sweet cucumbers.” Thin-skinned and tender, the Green Grape is delicious raw.

Sweet 100's

At just ¾ inch in diameter, this small tomato packs a punch. It’s very sweet, “like a grape or raisin,” with a mildly acidic balance. Bite into it and the relatively thick skin and dense flesh yield an “audible, juicy pop.” Alas, it’s also seedy and turns “mushy” when cooked.


Large and oblong, the Juliet tapers elegantly at its non-stem end. Its skin is tough, its texture “very firm, almost crunchy,” and its dense flesh “sweet,” “mild,” and “tomatoey.” The Juliet’s firm texture makes it a good choice for cooking.

Sun Gold

Tasters loved this variety, which is popular among home gardeners, finding it perfectly poised between “sweet as candy” and “fruity and tart, like an apricot.” Its soft, juicy flesh makes it good to eat raw or to toss with hot pasta for a quick raw tomato sauce.

Black Cherry

The round and relatively large Black Cherry was a favorite among our tasters. “Not nearly as sweet” as the other tomatoes we tasted, it made up for that with complexity, “earthy, winey” notes, and “assertive acidity.” A “near perfect” balance between juiciness and firmness makes it an excellent all-purpose cherry tomato.


Both yellow and red varieties are “dull and bland,” said tasters, who were unimpressed with their “thick, chewy skin” and “mealy flesh.” Also known as “pear” tomatoes (both names refer to their shape), Teardrop varieties are available in gourmet stores, but they are not at the top of our list.

Super Snow White

Despite the name, this heirloom tomato is lemon yellow, not snow white. Its taut skin “pops” when you bite it, revealing “fruity, mildly acidic flesh” with a “grapy aftertaste—like white wine.” Eat out of hand or add to salads.

Red Grape

Tasters liked the Red Grape’s “meaty, nearly seedless” flesh, but not its “lack of both acidity and sweetness.” Cooking brings out its flavor, making it suitable for pasta dishes. Alternatively, toss with an assertive vinaigrette. Red Grapes are widely available in supermarkets.


This tomato measures just ½ inch in diameter and offers “nice acidity” but “little sweetness.” Its “surprisingly thick,” “tannic” skin made it even more tart. When cooked, it deflates into a pile of skins, so eat raw or skip altogether.

Sweet Gold

This one is as tasty as it is brightly colored. Tasters praised its “complex” flavor (“lemony” and “mangolike”) and “perfect” texture (“firm” and “super juicy”). Excellent eaten out of hand, tossed into salads, or cooked briefly.