- Tomato, Super Sweet 100 Hybrid
- Super Sweet 100 Small-Fruited Tomato
- Sweet 100 Tomato Care: Learn About Growing Sweet 100 Tomatoes
- What are Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes?
- How to Grow a Sweet 100 Tomato Plant
- Kitchen Garden Seeds
- Top 10 Best-Tasting Cherry Tomatoes
- Growing Cherry Tomatoes
- Content Disclaimer:
- Cherry Tomato Champs
Tomato, Super Sweet 100 Hybrid
How to Sow and Plant
- Sow tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit
- Sow seeds ¼ inch deep in seed-starting formula
- Keep the soil moist at 75 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
Planting in the Garden:
- Select a location in full sun with good rich moist organic soil. Make sure you did not grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or potatoes in the bed the previous year to avoid disease problems.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Tomatoes should be set 30-48 inches apart in a row with the rows spaced 3-4 feet apart. It can be tempting to space tomatoes more closely at planting time, but if you plant too closely you will increase the chance of disease, and decrease yields.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development.
- Tomatoes can be planted deeply, with the stem buried to the first set of leaves. The more deeply they are planted the more roots will form, providing the plant with additional support and better ability to take up nutrients. Some gardeners plant tomatoes by digging a horizontal trench and laying the plant in the trench with the top 2-4 inches of the plant pointing upward.
- Fill the planting hole with soil to the top and press soil down firmly with your hand leaving a slight depression around the plant to hold water.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker. This is particularly important if you are trying different varieties. It is very difficult to tell which variety is which from the foliage.
- Water thoroughly, so that a puddle forms in the saucer you have created. This settles the plants in, drives out air pockets and results in good root-to-soil contact.
- Place your plant support at this time. You can try tomato cages or staking. Unsupported plants will sprawl on the ground, require no pruning, and will probably produce a larger yield of smaller fruit than will staked plants. For larger, cleaner, more perfect fruits, support plants as they grow. Growing on stakes: Place strong stakes in the ground and set plants about 6 inches from the stakes. Growing in cages: Place a cage around a single plant; let the vines grow and enlarge within the cage, no pruning will be necessary
Super Sweet 100 Small-Fruited Tomato
Preventing Late Blight
Late blight is here to stay. Particularly challenging for those who prefer the flavor of open-field-grown tomatoes is the seeming arbitrariness of the outbreaks. While many growers this past season in Maine were caught unprepared by an early onset of LB, others in parts of Massachusetts and Vermont were spared both early and late. Although cool temperatures, moist conditions, still air and lack of sunshine favor sporulation, spores can occur and advance in any condition of high humidity even in the absence of significant precipitation. LB might spread quickly…or not; wind-borne spores can travel hundreds of miles on storm fronts, but also can be baked into submission by the hot sun. Be prepared and employ as many preventive techniques as you are willing and able. Once LB lesions develop on your plants you need to take immediate action to halt the disease in hopes of salvaging a crop. Our recommendations:
- Where possible, use resistant varieties. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a resistant main crop variety that meets our high standards for flavor. Our search continues.
- Try to find tolerant cultivars—use anecdotal evidence and experiment.
- Grow your own tomato plants or buy locally grown seedlings. Know your farmer!
- Do not use saved potatoes as seed stock. Purchase only new certified disease-free seed potatoes. Click here for more potato-related info.
- Plant in areas with full sun and few wind blocks. Avoid shade and moist environments. Facilitate air movement. Maintain high soil fertility.
- Stay on top of the weather. Access state IPM reports, online forecasting models or smart phone apps. See vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/ for excellent photos and info. University of Maine Cooperative Exension: Potato IPM bi-weekly tells where LB infections have been confirmed in Maine or the eastern United States, umaine.edu/potatoes, 1-888-USE-UMCE. Or use the forecast model uspest.org/risk/tom_pot_map to assess potential for spore germination and lesion formation in your area.
- If you choose to spray, have a plan and materials on hand in June, so you can make quick and timely application(s) when conditions indicate.
- OGS offers a full roster of preventive and post-ap products.
- Most market growers and many home gardeners now grow at least a portion of their tomatoes under cover. Homemade high tunnels, caterpillars, commercial hoophouses and greenhouses can greatly reduce vulnerability though still require vigilance.
- LB on tomatoes is not seed-borne. However, other tomato diseases can be seed-borne so be careful. Using fermentation to extract seed reduces risk.
- Late blight does not survive on dead tissue. In frozen northern areas infected plants may be composted. However, other tomato diseases can survive on dead tissue to infect your next crop so it is probably best not to compost any diseased tomato plants.
- It is unnecessary to place infected plants in trash bags. Instead, if the plants are beyond saving, pull them up and sun-cook or freeze them on the soil surface.
Sweet 100 Tomato Care: Learn About Growing Sweet 100 Tomatoes
As an avid tomato gardener, each year I like to try growing different tomato varieties that I have never grown before. Growing and using different varieties not only lets me try out new gardening tricks and techniques, but also allows me to experiment in the kitchen with new culinary scents and flavors. However, while I love all this experimentation, I always leave space in the garden for my all-time favorite tomato plants, like Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. Read on for helpful tips on growing Sweet 100 tomatoes.
What are Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes?
Sweet 100 tomato plants produce red cherry tomatoes on indeterminate vining plants that may grow 4-8 feet (1.2 to 2.4 m.) tall. These vines produce high yields of fruit from early summer right up to frost. The high yields are indicated by the “100” in their name. However, this does not mean that the whole plant itself will only produce about 100 fruit. Instead, just one cluster of fruit on the plant can produce up to 100 cherry tomatoes, and the plant can produce many of these tomato clusters.
With just one bite of a Sweet 100 cherry tomato, it is easy to see why “sweet” is also in its name. These cherry tomatoes are ranked as one of the best for snacking, even right off the vine. In fact, one of their nicknames is “vine candy.” Sweet 100 tomatoes are excellent for using fresh in salads. They are also versatile enough to be used in recipes, stewed, canned and/or frozen. Whichever methods they are prepared, Sweet 100 tomatoes retain their sweet, sugary flavor. They are also high in Vitamin C.
How to Grow a Sweet 100 Tomato Plant
Sweet 100 tomato care is no different than that of most any tomato plant. The plants will grow best in full sun. Plants should be spaced about 24-36 inches (61-91 cm.) apart and generally mature in about 70 days. Because these vines become so laden with fruit, growing Sweet 100 tomatoes on a trellis or fence generally works best, but they can be staked or grown in tomato cages as well.
In my own garden, I have always grown my Sweet 100 tomatoes right by the steps of my back porch. This way, I can train the vines to grow upon the step and porch railings, and I can also very easily harvest handfuls of the ripened fruit for a quick refreshing snack or salad. To be perfectly honest, I rarely walk past these plants without sampling a ripened fruit.
Sweet 100 tomatoes are resistant to both fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. The only complaint with these cherry tomatoes is that the fruit has a habit of cracking, especially after heavy rains. To prevent this cracking, do not let fruits over-ripen on the vine. Pick them as soon as they ripen.
Kitchen Garden Seeds
Gardening Tips: Tomato Disease Codes
We have listed the diseases to which select hybrids have been bred to be resistant~one of the true benefits of improved hybrids.
V: Verticilium Wilt
F: Fusarium Wilt
F1: Fusarium Wilt Race 1
F2: Fusarium Wilt Race 2
A: Alternaria alternata
L: Septoria leafspot
TMV: Tobacco Mosaic Virus
Tomato Sowing Instructions
Days to Germination: 6-15 days
It’s best to raise Tomatoes as transplants. Sow Tomato seeds in sterile seed mix 6 to 8 weeks before the danger of frost has passed, water lightly and provide bottom heat. Grow seedlings at 60° to 75°F in a brightly lit, well-ventilated area. (Windowsills are not bright enough; the plant will get leggy and flop over.) Fertilize lightly as needed, increasing the pot size as needed. After the last spring frost, place outdoors for a week to harden off and to introduce to stronger sunlight. Prepare fertile Tomato beds in full sun with lots of compost and/or well-rotted manure. Transplant, burying seedlings deeper than initially grown, incorporating organic fertilizer under each transplant. Support with Tomato cages or tie plants loosely to rough wooden stakes, using soft cloth. Feed occasionally as needed. Keep Tomatoes well-watered by soaking the soil and not the leaves. Harvest when ripe!
Green Means Go
If you’re wondering if your Tomato plants (or any annual crops) are getting the soil fertility they need, keep an eye on the “seed leaves”. This is the first pair of leaves to emerge when a seed sprouts. They remain at the base of the stem as the plant grows. If the seed leaves stay healthy and green, you’re doing something right with the soil in that row. If they are pale, yellow or withered, you need to prepare the soil more carefully next time you plant.
The more water a vegetable contains, the more water you need to give it in dry, hot weather. Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Celery are especially thirsty. If you can, group them together and run a soaker hose through the patch.
According to the theory of companion planting, Tomatoes and Basil benefit one another when grown in the same plot. Certainly, they cause each other no harm, for we have often interplanted the two in a row, especially when we’re training Tomatoes vertically on strings. There’s plenty of space in between them for bushy Basil plants. After all, they keep excellent company in the kitchen, whether you’re serving fresh Tomatoes strewn with the pungent green Basil leaves or cooking both up into a luscious sauce for pasta. It’s handy to be able to pick the two together. And who knows? Perhaps the Basil’s strong scent repels insect pests that might otherwise prey on the Tomatoes.
The better your Tomato crop, the more important it is to support those heavy, leafy vines laden with ripening fruits. Our favorite system is to train them in circular cages~and we don’t mean those flimsy ones you buy at the garden center, which are neither tall enough nor strong enough to support the weight of indeterminate (vining) varieties. Instead we purchase sheets of concrete reinforcing wire, which is sold at hardware stores in flat rectangular sheets of heavy duty metal grid, with 6″ X 6″ openings, just the right size for reaching in to pick. Each sheet, cut in half, will make two 5′ tall cylindrical cages. Cut the sheet in half with wire cutters, leaving stubs of wire that can be twisted around the opposite sides to form a cylinder about 18″ in diameter. Also snip off the horizontal wire at the bottom, leaving more stubs you can poke into the earth to hold the cage steady. As the Tomatoes grow you can train them a little, removing the bottom suckers up to the first fruiting branch, and guiding each uppermost tip to stay within the cage as it grows. But most of the time the vines will simply rest their elbows on the wire, so to speak, as they climb, remaining staunchly upright.
The Sweet Sungold Sungreen Siblings
Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Cooking Tip: Variations on a Theme
At the height of Tomato season, platters appear on the table regularly, and we never seem to get tired of them. But it’s nice to vary the dressing. Sometimes it’s just a simple vinaigrette. Sometimes its a heavier balsamic vinegar dressing with olive oil and honey. Sliced red Onions are often part of the mix. Basil, either with the leaves whole or cut into ribbons, is a frequent player. And sometimes we make a pesto with our Lemon Basil and some good olive oil–maybe a little extra lemon as well, and some parmigiano cheese. It stays a brighter green than other pestos, and is wonderful spooned over the Tomato.
There’s always too many Tomatoes and there’s never enough time to can them all. Here’s an easy way to freeze them instead. Wash the Tomatoes and cut out the little core at the stem leaving as much of the good flesh as possible. Then, simply fill one-gallon plastic freezer bags with the fruits. They do not need to be blanched and can be used by just dropping them into soups or sauces. If you prefer them skinless, just thaw them and the skins will slip right off. Paste Tomatoes (like Milano Plum Tomatoes) are fleshier and work the best, but you can use other types if that is what you have.
The Tao of Tomato Sauce
Although we tend to eat with the seasons, there’s one summer crop we’re never willing to part with when frost threatens: Tomatoes. The trouble is, we’re often too busy or lazy for the hours we’d need to can them or cook them down into sauce. Fortunately we’ve found a way to let tomato sauce “just happen”. When frost is predicted we pick all of our ripe Plum Tomatoes, rinse them off, cut out the little core at the stem end, and place them in 1-gallon sealable plastic bags, in the freezer. Whenever we need them we can take them out individually or by the bagful. We quickly slip off their skins by holding them under hot tap water for a few seconds while they’re still rock hard. This way, much less of the beautiful, nutritious pulp clings to the discarded skins. Once skinned they can be tossed into soups and stews, or turned into a completely effortless sauce. To make it, we just set the frozen Tomatoes in a steamer or colander, over a pot, and let the liquid drip through the holes into the pot as they thaw. This water, which is nearly clear, can be added to another recipe or discarded. Meanwhile, while we’re off doing something else, the Tomatoes have become a little pile of rich, concentrated goodness~in other words, a sauce. All they need is a little olive oil, Garlic and herbs.
Top 10 Best-Tasting Cherry Tomatoes
July 18, 2014 2:37 pm
‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ is a super sweet currant tomato with a Brix of 11.5!
Cherry tomatoes are garden candy. In summer, my girls scour the vines daily looking for full-colored fruits at the peak of sweetness. We grow several new varieties each year for snacking and salads (this year’s pickings include ‘Blue Cream Berries’ and ‘Sunrise Bumblebee’), but there are several varieties we return to for amazing flavor and sweetness. These cherries comprise our top 10 list.
‘Isis Candy’ is pretty and has a Brix of 8-9. (Image by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
Cherry tomatoes are natural tomato variants (Lycopersicon esculentum), that are sometimes distinguished as Lycopersicon esculentum var. cerasiforme. Another popular small-fruited species is the tiniest of the tiny current tomato (Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium) with its fruits that reach the size of large peas. These, and other tomatoes, are believed to have been domesticated in Mexico or Peru, though there is an unresolved argument regarding their exact origins. Still, the popularity of cherry tomatoes among breeders, growers, and consumers is undeniable. Over one hundred cultivated varieties exist with new types being developed each year.
‘Candyland Red’ us a new, super sweet currant tomato. (Image by AAS Winners)
There are several things to consider when choosing a prime cherry tomato. Of course there’s size (from pea- to ping-pong-ball-sized), shape (cherry, teardrop, or pear) and color (red, pink, orange, ivory, purple, or near black), and disease and cracking resistance, but the more essential characteristics to select for are flavor and sugar content (degrees Brix=°Bx). And, generally speaking, the sweeter the cherry tomato, the better.
1. ‘Golden Sweet‘: Touted as the sweetest and best-tasting yellow grape tomato, the indeterminate vines produce lots of glossy gold fruits that are crack-resistant, firm and meaty.
2. ‘Isis Candy‘: This is a very pretty cherry tomato with golden fruits streaked with red. They are equally delicious and sweet with a 8-9 °Bx. The vines are high-performing and indeterminate.
3. ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry‘: This is one of the sweetest of the currant tomatoes with an 11.5 °Bx. The large vines produce lots of bright red, pungent fruits so one is all you need.
4. ‘Fantastico’: Slightly elongated grape tomatoes still fall into the cherry tomato category, and the bright red, AAS-winning ‘Fantastico’ is one of the best. The glossy sweet tomatoes have a 12 °Bx and are firm, crack-resistant, and sweet. The bushy, determinate vines are also high-yielding and resistant to late blight.
5. ‘Sun Gold‘: This is the classic for cherry tomato lovers because it offers both remarkable sweet, tangy, delicious tomato flavor. The golden-orange fruits have an 8 °Bx, are borne on long trusses, and taste best when growing conditions are slightly dry. Vines are indeterminate.
6. ‘Sunpeach‘: This pink-fruited relative of ‘Sun Gold’ has super long trusses of slightly oblong fruits with excellent sweet, well-rounded flavor. The fruits are crack-resistant, and the high-performing vines are indeterminate.
7. ‘Favorita‘: The glossy, deep red, fruits have a 8.8 °Bx sugar rating and produce early. The indeterminate vines resist Fusarium wilt, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, and nematodes.
8. ‘Sun Sugar‘: The tangerine-orange fruits of ‘Sun Sugar’ are some of the sweetest, tartest, and best tasting around. The disease-resistant, indeterminate vines will stand up to fusarium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus, and they produce long trusses of crack-resistant fruits.
9. ‘Candyland Red‘: Large, rambling vines produce lots of super sweet, firm, currant fruits that are tiny and deep red. Of all the currant tomatoes available, it’s the sweetest with 12 °Bx. It is also a 2016 All-America Selections winner!
10. ‘Supersweet 100‘: The super-sized, disease-resistant, indeterminate vines can reach over 12’ and produce loads and loads of bright red and very tasty. The fruits are the least sweet of the bunch, with a 6 °Bx, but they are still very good and super prolific.
‘Sun Gold’ is a classic cherry that seasoned growers swear by.
Growing Cherry Tomatoes
Before planting these or any tomatoes, amend planting beds by digging and turning the soil deeply and adding rich Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost Blend and organic granular fertilizer formulated for tomatoes, such as OMRI Listed Black Gold Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer. Plant vines around 4 feet apart and mulch with a two- to three-inch layer of compost. Young plants can be planted deep, with only a couple of nodes with foliage above ground, but leaves should be gently removed from all stem parts that will be covered with soil. Indeterminate tomatoes should be fitted with large tomato cages right away. Water regularly to keep plants moist, not wet. Days to harvest vary, but plants usually begin to bear fruit 65 to 85 days after planting.
Each year I add to my cherry tomato knowledge with a new cultivar.This year’s experimental variety is Wild Boar Farm’s ‘Cream Amethyst’, which they say is mild, sweet and pure ivory with a purple blush. It may be a keeper to add to the list or a common variant with run-of-the-mill flavor. It’s always a gamble. But, if you choose from this top ten you’ll never go wrong.
The beautiful red ‘Fantastico’ grape tomato has a fantastic 12 Brix! (photo thanks to AAS Winners)
About Jessie Keith
Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.
This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.
Cherry Tomato Champs
Remember when cherry tomatoes first started popping up in salad bars and restaurants across the country in the 1970s Twenty years later, their popularity continues to grow, fueled by new introductions by tomato breeders and seed companies. With more and more cherry tomato varieties on the market, it’s hard to know which are the best to grow.
To find out, last summer we recruited eight of our crack National Gardening test gardeners from around the country to trial six of the most popular red cherry tomato varieties — ‘Gardener’s Delight’, ‘Large Red Cherry’, ‘Red Currant’, ‘Super Sweet 100’, ‘Sweet Chelsea’ and ‘Sweet Million’ — in their home gardens. The results of the trial are given below. And for gardeners who’d like to try one of the new yellow or gold cherry tomatoes, we’ve included our recommendations of the best varieties below.
We asked testers to grow all the varieties as they would their normal tomato crop and then rank each cherry tomato variety for plant vigor, disease resistance, ease of growing, cracking, quality, yield, overall performance and flavor. Cherry tomatoes are more closely related to their wild tomato kin than larger-fruited tomato varieties.
Perhaps for that reason, most varieties grew vigorously and had few problems, producing more than enough fruit for a small family. What set the varieties apart were the differences in flavor, size and susceptibility to cracking. In the end, it came down to how the tomato looked and tasted, and that’s what NGA’s testers used to decide the winners.
And the Winners Are
For overall yield, flavor and sweetness, our eight testers unanimously voted ‘Super Sweet 100’ the winner. Its parent, ‘Sweet 100’, revolutionized the cherry tomato world with its terrific yields (up to 50 fruits per cluster) and its novel, sweet taste when it was introduced in 1978. ‘Sweet 100’ got its name during field trials in California, when a European gentleman in a newly starched white shirt picked a sample of cherry tomatoes from row 100. The seeds and juice spurted all over his shirt as he ate the fruit. He just laughed and gushed, “Boy, that 100 is a sweet little devil.” The rest is history.
‘Super Sweet 100’, introduced in 1982, is an improved version of ‘Sweet 100’ with added disease resistance. All varieties marked as ‘Sweet 100’ on the market today are actually this newer strain.
Linda Sapp, owner of Tomato Growers Supply Company, which grows more than 200 varieties of tomatoes in Fort Myers, Florida, wasn’t surprised that ‘Super Sweet 100’ was declared the winner. “When you think of the classic red cherry tomato, most people remember the sweetness, reliability and production of ‘Sweet 100’,” she says.
An old standby, ‘Large Red Cherry’, was first runner-up in the trial and was liked for its trademark large size and slicing-tomato flavor. ‘Sweet Million’ had better crack resistance (a common problem with cherry tomatoes) than any other variety tested but fell short in flavor and yield, coming in third overall. The other three varieties (‘Sweet Chelsea’, ‘Gardener’s Delight’ and ‘Red Currant’) were considered average in yield, sweetness, crack resistance and overall quality.
Here’s how the testers described the six varieties, in order of preference:
‘Super Sweet 100’ (65 days from transplant).
A vigorous-vined hybrid producing abundant clusters of one-inch-diameter fruits, this was the most preferred red cherry tomato in our trial. Half the testers rated it number one for flavor and overall quality. It won blind taste tests with testers and Master Gardeners in Wisconsin and California. This variety’s only drawback was the small fruit size. Leanna Rusch of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, fantasized that the perfect red cherry tomato would have the growing quality, vigor and flavor of ‘Super Sweet 100’, with the size of ‘Large Red Cherry’.
‘Large Red Cherry’ (75 days from transplant).
This open-pollinated variety is known for its firm, crack-free, (1 1/4-inch-diameter) fruits. ‘Large Red Cherry’ was second to ‘Super Sweet 100’ in flavor and overall quality, but testers loved the large size and good flavor. “It had excellent growth, large fruits that rarely cracked and a fine tomato flavor,” reports Gerald Holmes of Roxton, Texas. Some testers even used ‘Large Red Cherry’ as a slicing tomato in small sandwiches and liked the fact it produced fewer but bigger fruits.
‘Sweet Million’ (65 days from transplant).
This hybrid has growth and yields similar to ‘Sweet 100’, but it has added disease and crack resistance. Testers considered ‘Sweet Million’ the most crack-free of the varieties, but in the all-important flavor test, it fell below ‘Large Red Cherry’ and ‘Super Sweet 100’ for most testers. Jack Taylor of Inman, South Carolina, sums it up: “‘Sweet Million’ just wasn’t as sweet and flavorful as ‘Super Sweet 100’.”
‘Sweet Chelsea’ (67 days from transplant).
This hybrid variety combines the fruit size of ‘Large Red Cherry’ and the disease and crack resistance of ‘Sweet Million’ with the flavor of ‘Super Sweet 100’.
Despite the glowing description, all these improvements didn’t add up to a better cherry tomato for our testers. ‘Sweet Chelsea’ impressed some testers with its fruit size and yield, but when compared with the other varieties, it ranked fourth overall. “The plants were disease-free and fruits were jumbo-sized, but with only an average flavor,” explains Arthur Schumann of Portland, Oregon. “It’s just a middle-of-the-road variety.”
‘Gardener’s Delight’ (65 days from transplant).
This crack-resistant, open-pollinated variety produces 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter fruits in small clusters of 6 to 12 fruits per cluster.
Testers said the vines were vigorous and high-yielding, but the fruits were the most susceptible to cracking of all varieties tested and the flavor was bland. “Taste is everything for me with cherry tomatoes,” explains Leanna Rusch. “Even though ‘Gardener’s Delight’ produced a lot of fruit, they had little flavor.”
‘Red Currant’ was considered an interesting novelty crop by testers, but it rated low overall. “The fruits were very attractive in salads, but the taste was too tart and skin too thick for best eating quality,” notes Fred Hahn of Lewis Center, Ohio. “No more than two or three fruits ripened at one time, making them buggers to harvest,” adds Jacqueline Dewar of Los Angeles, California. Though ‘Red Currant’ produced an abundance of tiny fruits, the poor flavor and the harvest difficulties ranked it last in most categories in our test.
The best test of a cherry tomato is to grow it (and taste it) yourself, of course. Use our results as a starting point for you own search for the best of these little reds (just be sure to include ‘Super Sweet 100’!). And I’ll see you at the salad bar.
Although we tested only the most popular red cherry tomato varieties, our story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the gold varieties gaining in popularity.
If you really want the sweetest cherry tomatoes, you might want to go for the gold. “I think gold and yellow cherry tomatoes are generally sweeter than their red counterparts and add another color to salads and cooking,” notes Linda Sapp, owner of Tomato Growers Supply Company in Fort Myers, Florida.
In the indeterminate plant size class, ‘Sweet Gold hybrid’ produces fruits of ‘Super Sweet 100’ size and taste but has a deep gold coloring. ‘Sun Gold hybrid’ is another popular indeterminate gold cherry, but its flavor is more reminiscent of a pineapple than of a tomato. “It’s definitely a different eating experience from the average tomato,” says Sapp. (There’s now a red version called ‘Sungold Red’ available.)
For an earlier harvest of gold and yellow cherries, try growing determinate varieties get only two to three feet tall, such as the ‘Chello hybrid’ or open-pollinated ‘Gold Nugget’.