What Are Black Tomatoes?

Black tomatoes

Black tomatoes are a darker colored variety of tomato and one of the healthiest foods you can eat, with scientifically proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. What causes black tomatoes to acquire such a dark color is also what makes them so healthy: a type of antioxidant found in other healthy foods such as blueberries, blackberries, chokeberries, black raspberries and black mulberries. Both heirloom and genetically modified black tomato varieties exist, one healthier than the other.

What is a black tomato?

Black tomatoes are a type of darker-colored tomato, but a tomato nonetheless. Most black tomato varieties do not actually turn black when they ripen, but rather a dark color that may be a blue black, a purple black or a blue purple. For this reason they are often called according to the color they resemble the most which may be ‘black tomatoes, ‘purple tomatoes’ or ‘blue tomatoes‘. Despite their name, black tomatoes often have red or red purple flesh. Most varieties gradually change color as they ripen, going from green when unripe to red or red purple to a dark violet and ultimately a dark purple-blue, almost black color.

Black tomatoes good for you

What do black tomatoes look like?

There are quite a few different types of black tomatoes (see pictures below). There are regular-size black tomatoes, either round or ribbed (like red beefsteak tomatoes), but also black cherry tomatoes. Black tomato varieties also range in color from blue purple to purple black to blue black when ripe. Some black tomato varieties are entirely black, both peel and flesh, but it’s rare. Most varieties are actually only partially black: either only the peel, but not the flesh, or only parts of the peel, the rest being a purplish red to dark purplish red or reddish brown. Black tomato seeds typically look the same as regular red tomato seeds, cream-colored when fresh and a light greenish-gray when dried.

Can you eat black tomatoes?

You can definitely eat black tomatoes, and you can eat them any way you want to: raw, cooked, pickled etc. Despite looking so unusual, black tomatoes are nothing more than just a different-colored tomato. They are not poisonous or toxic or otherwise bad for you (and neither are green tomatoes). Only if you are allergic to tomatoes in general should you avoid eating them, and other tomato colors.

What do black tomatoes taste like?

Black tomatoes taste good: sweet, with rich, earthy flavor notes, slightly more astringent compared to regular red tomatoes as a result of their high anthocyanin content. They are overall quite flavorful and best enjoyed fresh.

Black tomatoes

What causes some tomatoes to turn black?

Tomatoes are red, that’s how we know them to be. So where do black tomatoes come from? Black tomatoes are still tomatoes, the exact same species as red ones actually. The only difference is they produce a different pigment when they ripen. Red tomatoes get their color from carotenoids, primarily lycopene. But black tomatoes get their color from anthocyanins such as petunidin, malvidin and delphinidin.

What causes black tomatoes that turn red inside?

Not all black tomato varieties are black all over, inside and out (or purple or blue). Actually, both the dark colored peel and the lighter red purple flesh in black tomato varieties come from the same anthocyanin antioxidants. The difference is the anthocyanins that get exposed to sunlight, such as those in the peel, darken, whereas the anthocyanins not exposed to sunlight, such as those in the flesh or shaded parts of the peel, stay lighter. So black tomatoes that are entirely black (or purple or blue), and black tomatoes that turn red inside are the same thing.

Are black tomatoes genetically modified?

Some black tomato varieties are genetically modified. While tomatoes technically possess the ability to produce a darker color, the genes, that is, said ability is not dominant. So scientists have introduced genes from other plants that naturally have the ability to produce a darker color, resulting in black tomatoes. Black tomatoes that are the product of genetic modification tend to produce a more intense and more even pigmentation. There are also heirloom varieties of black tomatoes produced by crossing tomatoes that naturally exhibited some degree of darker pigmentation, but these tend to produce more unevenly colored fruits and may not always be as dark colored.

How do you know when black tomatoes are ripe?

Even if you’ve never grown or eaten black tomatoes before, you’ll likely know when they are ripe (if you’ve had tomatoes before, that is). Black tomatoes are essentially a darker colored tomato, but otherwise the same as any other tomato. When they are ripe, they should be a dark blue or purple, almost black color, ideally somewhat firm, with soft, juicy, sweet and flavorful flesh, slightly more astringent. Just like red tomatoes, they need sufficient water and lots of sunlight to develop their best taste.

Are black tomatoes good for you?

Black tomatoes are at least just as good for you as red tomatoes, if not healthier. Eating black tomatoes is good for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system in general, and a source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. More important, black tomatoes are an anticancer food with free radical scavenging, anti-proliferative, enzyme-activating, anti-angiogenesis, apoptotic and anti-invasiveness properties. They boost the immune system via their vitamin C content and modulate it via anthocyanins. Black tomatoes have a low glycemic index score and limited effects on blood sugar, making them a good diabetic food.