Green types of tomatoes: the best green varieties to grow
How do you cultivate green tomatoes? And how to tell when the green tomatoes are ripe? We present the best green tomato varieties and give tips on planting and harvesting them.
Ripe, but green tomatoes? Yes, this is possible! Even if you have to take a closer look among the green foliage of the plant to distinguish the fruits, green tomatoes can be an amazing addition to the garden. Despite their awesomeness, they remain largely unknown and only a few gardeners actually dare to grow them. What a pity, because green tomato varieties taste delicious.
A common question people wonder, is how to determine the ripeness of green tomatoes. This is not that difficult. Unlike their brightly coloured counterparts, the green ripening tomatoes simply produce no or very little colouring as soon as they are ripe. An alkaloid called solanine is present in unripe tomatoes and makes the fruit taste bitter until it ripens. Just as with the coloured varieties, this alkaloid is initially retained in green tomato varieties, but is broken down during ripening. When ripe, the green tomatoes can be enjoyed fresh or processed without hesitation.
In this article, we will guide you through the hidden world of green tomatoes, introduce the best green tomato varieties and give you tips on growing them.
Green tomatoes: the best varieties
Green tomatoes might seem rather strange to most people. Many of the wild relatives of our domesticated tomato ripen green, for example the Chilean wild tomato (Solanum chilense). Green tomato varieties have been rather neglected in breeding, so there are comparatively few varieties. We have compiled the best open-pollinated types of green tomatoes for you in the following:
- ‘Artisan Green Tiger’ is an elongated cherry tomato that is pointed like an icicle at the bottom. Light green stripes on the fruit turn golden yellow when ripe, similar to the ‘Green Zebra’ tomato. It tastes fruity, sweet and sour, fresh and juicy at the same time.
- A particularly pretty and aromatic cherry tomato is ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Cherry’. The upper half of the fruit remains dark green, while the lower half turns light yellow-orange. The fruits reach about four centimetres in diameter and taste sweet and fruity.
- Craig Lehoullier bred the flat-at-the-top beef tomato ‘Cherokee Green’ in 1997. When ripe, it covers itself with an amber shine, but remains light green on the inside. It has an aromatic tomato flavour and a soft and tender flesh.
- With a wonderful aroma and sweet fruity taste, the ‘Green Docs’ is a green cocktail tomato great for beginners, because it is easy to care for and its ripe fruits are easily recognised. When ripe, the fruits become slightly yellowish, whereas the skin becomes very tender.
- ‘Green Pear’ is impressive with its small pear-shaped fruits, which get a golden yellow shine when ripe. A delicious cocktail tomato, which tastes sweet and fruity, but also has a refreshing acidity.
- ‘Green Zebra’ is probably the only commonly known and widespread green tomato variety. It was developed in 1983 by Tom Wagner, the prominent luminary in the field of tomato breeding, in the USA. The yellow-green striped medium-sized fruits taste wonderfully fresh and fruity-sweet. The plants are healthy, robust and suitable for outdoor cultivation.
- The beef tomato with the unusual name ‘Malachitschatulle’ comes from Russia and is called ‘Malakhitovaya Shkatulka’ there. The flat on the top, lime-green fruits always reach a weight of 200 to 500 grams and taste sweet, fruity and aromatic.
- ‘Emerald Apple’ is a medium-sized, green fleshy tomato. It tastes fruity and spicy and is also suitable for outdoor use. It reaches a height of 1.80 metres, ripens early and then gets a golden shine.
How to plant and care for green tomatoes
Green tomatoes are no different from other coloured tomatoes in terms of planting and maintenance. From the beginning to the middle of May, the young plants should begin their growth in a greenhouse. Later, they can be moved out in the open or into a pot. Place the young plants deep in the soil and provide them with some sort of support. Water and mulch the tomato plants regularly during the season.
When are green tomatoes ripe?
Green tomatoes rarely retain the same colour when they ripen. While most of them turn slightly golden yellow under their green skin, others develop yellow stripes. This change in colour is a clear sign that can help identify the ripe fruit. If you are unsure or have decided on a full green variety, press the fruit a little with your fingers. If the fruit yields slightly and feels soft, it can be harvested without hesitation.
Fancy even more variety in your tomato bed? You will find a selection of delicious yellow tomato varieties in this article.
If you would like to see a full overview of tomato varieties, read here.