Acidic tomatoes, Which are best?

rootdiggerOctober 12, 2008

My husband loves the acidic tomatoes but we seem to only wind up with the sweet varieties. We have already decided what we are planting next year except for the tomatoes.

Can someone suggest a good one?

FYI: I love the sweeter variety for my sauces, etc. Would the acidic and sweet cross-polinate and give a taste of both?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The actual pH of tomato varieties falls over a very narrow band - a chart of the range has been posted here several times in the past but I can't put my finger on it right now. Hopefully someone else can.

That range is approx. 4.3 to 4.7 so the majority of the difference between the so-called acid tomatoes and the so-called sweet tomatoes is quite small. It's more in the personal taste buds rather than the tomato itself. The growing conditions will also affect the taste a fair amount too so what comes across as a sweet tomato for me in my garden may be acid tasting to you and vice-versa.

Abe Lincoln and Burpee's Supersteak are 2 varieties that we call "acid flavored" in our house with our soil but others will likely disagree. ;)

Would the acidic and sweet cross-polinate and give a taste of both?

Sorry but it doesn't work that way. Tomatoes are self fertile and self-pollinating with a very low incidence of crossing. You'd have to manually do the cross and then save seed from the result. Any cross wouldn't show up this year anyway even with heirlooms rather than hybrids, only in fruit the following year that was grown from seed saved next year.


PS: Linked several previous discussions on "taste" below if you want to browse through them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato taste discussions

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 7:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dave/digdirt -- question -- as you state, the pH range isn't all that wide. Is it perhaps more a question of the sugar content (brix) of the tomatoes that affects their perceived acidity than the actual variation in pH?

I seem to recall, from OH, OH, OH so many years ago in my Introduction to Horticulture class at Michigan State, being taught that the pH of Sweet Cherries was actually lower than that of Lemons, and that it was simply the lack of sugars in the lemons that made them seem so much more acidic. Don't know if this is actually true or not, but it seemed to make sense and stuck with me.

One tomato that I find will "curl your toes" if grown under the right conditions is Burpee's 4th of July. Made some sauce and juice from them last year that seemed like it would take the lime scale off the shower door, but it was SO GOOD. The didn't seem quite as acidic this year, but they're definitely a more "tart" tasting than average tomato.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Is it perhaps more a question of the sugar content (brix) of the tomatoes that affects their perceived acidity than the actual variation in pH?

Per past discussions here, I'd say yes it is. The taste buds of the average person perceive sweet before bitter some have said. Some have also stated that soil acidity as well as time on the vine can greatly affect the perceived taste as brix develops over time. I know the labels "low-acid" is applied to some varieties ie: Lemon Boy, but its actual acid content isn't that much different than others so perhaps it has a higher sugar content.

Can we actually taste the difference between a pH of 4.5 and one of 4.7? Who knows. I can't but then I have a very old tongue. ;)


    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 11:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's your link to a list of heirloom varieties and their PH and Brix readings. I think the better term would be "Acidic Tasting Tomatoes" versus "Acidic Tomatoes". Ami

Here is a link that might be useful: Heirloom Cultivar Evaluation

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 1:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Dave/digdirt. We had forgotten all about the pH for the garden! Guess you can tell it's been a couple years since we've had a very large garden, and time to bone up on it again. We used to plant everything; i.e., potatoes,4 types of tomatoes, 8 kinds of peppers, corn, popcorn, broccoli, kohlrabi, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, peas and beans, plus we had fruit trees and a strawberry patch. We never could plant carrots,radishes, or onions because of grubs that ate them, but always had a bounty of everything else.

We had to give up all when hubby started working away from home every week and I worked 7 days a week. Now that he's "almost" retired, we can get back on track.

I've read quite a few discussions from the link you posted and will show these to hubby. Time to get back to the basics.

Thank you again. There is hope for us. LOL

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 7:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Can someone suggest a good one?"

Bolseno: A hybrid tomato from Johnny's Selected Seeds. This tomato will grow in great numbers on a rampant indeterminate vine and give you lots of baseball size tart red fruit over an extending season. One of the best canners I ever grew. Very disease resistant.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 8:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

There are many factors that are involved with tomato taste, and primary are the genes that any one variety has as well as individual perception of taste since there is a genetic association in humans as regards taste.

But in addition to pH and soluble sugars ( Brix) even more important is the fact the over 400 organic compounds have been detected by mass spectroscopy that are involved in taste altho the genes for them have yet to be identified.

When someone says they like acidic tomatoes I ASAP translate that to an agreesive taste or strong taste.

I can only share with you some varieties that I find to have a strong or agressive taste to me, but I don't know how you'll perceive them:

Older commercial varieties:

New Yorker
Break O day
Wisconsin 55

OP's, not commerical varieties: ( heirlooms are starred)

Tigerella, the original one that's a small red with jagged gold stripes
*Aunt Gertie's Gold
Any of the Spanish heirlooms such as Muchmiel, and above Bill has mentioned Bolseno at Johnny's Selected Seeds which is similar
*Silvery For Tree
*Gold Ball
*Green Gage ( is yellow)

........and there are others

So while the primary determinates of tomato taste are the genes that a particular variety has, there are so many other variables that have been spoken to above.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 9:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey Rootdigger; I too love acidic tomatoes. Sioux is the variety that I have found to consistantly produce acidic fruit. These are widely available and easy to find. It is determinate so I stagger the plantings so I have a longer harvest.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 6:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rootdigger, it's very possible that your family and mine could share a tomato garden. My wife likes the sweeter toms and I like the good old fashioned acid tasting varieties.

Carolyn gave you a good list and she and Bill and Dave could all type "for a while" and still be adding to the list. Lots of good info above.

This year, we (my wife and I) agreed on Cherokee Purple (OP) and somewhat on Golden Jubilee (OP). We tried Mountain Fresh (hybrid) and both liked it on BLT's. Digdirt named another I would have mentioned - Supersteak (hybrid) - wife didn't care for this one (too much acid).

Some other's we grew this year that might be a good compromise that you both might like are Giant Tree (slightly acid, but not really over the top), Black From Tula (Nice size, great flavor), and Big Rainbow which might also be a good compromise. (all OP)

For Cherry toms, Sungold for the sweet and SuperSweet 100 for the acid side. Super mild would fit Yellow Pear (OP), and nicely acid and sweet would fit Tumbling Tom Red (OP).

Hope this gives you folks some ideas.

Personal message to "Almost Retired" - RETIREMENT IS GOOD! Retirement is VERY GOOD!!!!!!

You had mentioned in your first post above that you had at least some concern or maybe it was just interest in whether or not you could plant an acid and a sweet type and get crossed fruit. Cross pollination would happen in the first year of the fruit growing and would only show up the following year from saved seeds. But here's the problem. The probability of gettting a cross is very small and is normally referred to here as less than 5%. Plus, you won't know what the mix of traits are IF you DO get a cross until the grow out in the second year. AND, those traits have a strong chance of not being stable. (Lots of "CHANCE" in there - no real certainties)

Take care. If you would like any of the OP's that I mentioned above, Email me your address and I'll send you some to try.



    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garyjoe(z6 TX)

Top Gun is very good and nice bite, and Bill Z says Bolzeno so I would not be hesitant to try them. Top guns are at Twilleys and Bolzenos at Johnny's seed.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 4:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

The most acidic tomato I ever tasted was Purple Calabash.

If you are looking for strictly ACIDIC it's your gal! She's
astringent she's so acidic!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm going to give a big thumbs up to my favorite tomato, Burgundy Traveler. It's a medium to small globe tomato, dark but not "black" (what Carolyn calls a pink-black). And it is tart and very, very tasty, not sweet.

I could also recommend a couple of others that are sometimes better, like Indian Stripe and Paul Robeson. But what I like about Burgundy Traveler is how damnably consistent it is. For instance, with Indian Stripe, the taste can be 180 degrees different depending on when you pick it, either very rich and tomato-pasty, when you pick it late, or tart like a Burgundy Traveler if you pick it a little early. But as I said, Burgundy Traveler just seems to be very consistent in that they tend to taste just as good every time, not as sensitive to when you pluck them, nor the season. Even the shrimpy stragglers I'm getting this late are good, if small and ugly. And the plant is hardy and productive. So I give it a big thumbs up if you like acidic TASTING tomatoes, as I do.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 7:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
camochef(zone 6)

Out of the hundreds of tomatoes that I grew this year, three varieties stand out in my mind, as having an acidic or less sweet taste. They are: Dr. Wyche's Yellow, West Virginia Straw, and Arkansas Traveler. The Dr. Wyche's has both sweet and strong acidic tastes but after a few,you can feel that acidic burn in your mouth. The West Virginia Straw had a very concentrated taste to it almost like a tomato paste. The Arkansas Traveler wasn't as acidic as the other two, but still leaned more to the acidic than sweet side. Of course that's here in South Central Pa. Don't know how they'll do in your part of the state.
Hope you find what your looking for!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 2:36PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Better Boy or Brandy Boy?
I have Better Boy seeds and considering Brandy Boy....
Please Critique Selections for 2015
My garden each year seems to expand here in N. Indiana...
Anyone Growing Dwarf Tomatoes?
I recently acquired a copy of the excellent new book...
Ralph Whisnant
Which tomato would you grow?
Out of the seeds I have, which would you grow two of?...
What are you growing for 2015?
Hi all! I'm a fairly new gardener (this will be my...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™