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The Beefsteak Tomato

Juicy, meaty, and delicious, beefsteak tomatoes are among the most hearty of all tomatoes and make for the ideal tomatoes for sandwiches and burgers. The thick and fleshy beefsteak is the largest of all varieties of tomatoes.

However, there are a few things you need to know to grow the plumpest and juiciest beefsteak, and in this guide, we’ll tell you everything you’ll need to be successful.

Closeup of beefsteak tomatoes ripening on the vine.

The Best Beefsteak Tomato Varieties

Now, if you’re new to tomato growing, it might be surprising to learn that there are many sub-varieties within some varieties, such as beefsteak tomatoes. Here’s a list of just a few of the different types of beefsteak tomatoes you can grow:

  • Pink Beefsteak
  • Big Beef
  • Bucking Bronco
  • Beefsteak VFN
  • Marmande
  • Beefmaster VFN
  • Brandywine (pink heirloom)
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Mortgage Lifter
  • Black Krim
Closeup of a Brandywine tomato, a type of beefsteak tomato.
The Brandywine is one kind of beefsteak tomato — argued by some to be the best-tasting of them all.

Beefsteak Characteristics

Beefsteak tomatoes are known for their meaty bodies and numerous seeds. Here’s a list of some of their characteristics:

  • Large size.
  • Meaty texture.
  • Classic tomato flavor with a slightly sweet taste depending on the variety.
  • Heavy weighing up to four pounds.
  • Color range from pink, red, to orange.
  • Most have a smooth shape, but several ribbed varieties like Coustralee and Red Ponderosa.
Closeup of a hand holding a very large beefsteak tomato.

As for the plant itself: indeterminate and determinate.

Determinate tomatoes will bloom, then set fruit at almost all at once before they decline. The plant’s blossoms appear at the end of their shoots, stopping the growth and determining their final length.

Meanwhile, indeterminate plants will continue growing and producing tomatoes all summer because they flower along with their vines instead of at the ends.

Four beefsteak tomatoes on a table.

Nutritional facts

Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C and A and are packed with healthy fiber. Vine and field summer tomatoes have higher concentrations of vitamin C than those grown in a greenhouse during the fall and winter seasons. And fresh raw tomatoes will always have more vitamin C before they are canned or cooked.

Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant compound called lycopene, which is said to help protect against heart disease and cancer.

Pan of grilled beefsteak tomatoes.

How to Plant Beefsteak Tomatoes

Growing the perfect beefsteak tomatoes takes a single long season. It’s recommended that you start your plant indoors for the first six weeks before you plant them outdoors. The best time to start is a week or two, just after spring’s final frost.

Overhead view of tray of tomato seedlings.

For the best results, begin sowing your seeds a half-inch deep in a well-drained soil-less mix. You also want to ensure the environment is at room temperature.

Once you transplant your beefsteak sees to your garden, make sure the soil is warm. The ideal soil’s temperature should be between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The benefit of warm soil is a faster rate of germination.

If planting more than one beefsteak, ensure they are spaced at least five feet apart to ensure good air circulation. Also, due to the size and growth of this variety, you want to ensure you have very sturdy cages. Since beefsteak tomatoes are mostly indeterminate, you’ll need to prune auxiliary shoots, which will promote better branching.

Beefsteak tomato plants growing in tomato cages.

The soil’s pH level should be between 6.0 and 6.8. Tomatoes grow best in slightly acidic soil.

Before germination, you also need to maintain your soil’s moisture but don’t overwater and make it too soggy. Water your soil moderately as soon as you notice seedlings breaking through.

With Beefsteaks, much like other varieties of tomatoes, you want to plant in soil that’s well-drained and rich in organic matter. You can use clays and fertile loams in your soil to produce better tomato yields. However, lighter soils that will drain and heat up faster are the way to go if you want to harvest faster.

Hands holding composted soil.

Having the best soil is by far the most critical element. Once the first flowers bloom, you should side-fertilize using an even mixture (10-10-10). You should also use compost tea or compost.

As your crops mature, fertilize with one pound per 100 square feet every three weeks using an organic blend that’s rich in the following substances:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Nitrogen (moderate levels)

Another tip for inground growers is turning the soil and mixing in mulch such as winter cover crops or straw. Doing this will ensure the soil remains loose, allowing the beefsteak plant to breathe. This will alleviate a lot of issues connected with growing beefsteak.

The ideal soil is rich and loose, and fresh, meaning the soil had not been used to grow tomatoes for at least three years.

Caring for Your Beefsteak Tomato Plants

When it comes to temperatures, your beefsteak tomatoes can not tolerate cold temperatures, which can deform your fruits. This effect is known as catfacing, and you can avoid it by ensuring that you plant only in warm soil after the last frost of spring.

A beefsteak tomato suffering from catfacing.

Another tip is to ensure the soil nearly reaches the plant’s lower leaves when transplanting to the outside. Beefsteak crops grow better when planted deeper outdoors compared to the depth used in a container.

Also, avoid growing members of the Brassicaceae family next to your tomatoes. A few examples include:

  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Broccoli
  • Mustard
  • Turnip
  • Cauliflower

Other plants to avoid are corn, potatoes, and fennel herbs.

Pests and diseases

Common pests that can plague beefsteak tomatoes include:

  • Rodents (such as squirrels)
  • Aphids
  • Tomato hornworms
  • and Flea beetles

Humid weather can also trigger fungal diseases such as early and late blight.

For more information on combating diseases, you can consult this guide by hgic.clemson.edu.

Beefsteak Tomatoes: Final Thoughts

Closeup of top of beefsteak tomato.

Planting the best beefsteak tomato crop will take more work than is the case with other tomato varieties. However, you’ll quickly find that the rewards are well worth the extra effort. The main thing to remember is that you need to monitor your crops closely, at least every other day, to watch for signs of pests or disease and take immediate action should you find any. Once your tomatoes are ready to harvest, you’ll enjoy the delicious bounty of all your hard work.

Have a useful tip about growing beefsteak tomato varieties? Share it in the comments section below!

If you love reading about tomatoes, click here for our other tomato-related blog articles.