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The Black Beauty Tomato

When most folks think of tomatoes, they immediately assume two things. One that they are vegetables. And two, they are always red. Of course, both of these things are not true, and folks would be shocked to learn that there are many black tomatoes, such as the Black Beauty tomato.

Let’s take a closer look at this rather unique-looking tomato.

Black Beauty tomatoes on a plant.
Black Beauty tomatoes are commonly found in “goth gardens,” along with other black produce varieties.

History of the Black Beauty Tomato

The Black Beauty Tomato is derived from the Indigo Rose tomatoes, developed by plant breeders in 2012. Since that time, they have worked to breed more black and purple varieties. Brad Gates of Wild Boar farms first produced Black Beauty tomatoes. He cross-bred Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye and Indigo Apple.

Characteristics of the Black Beauty Tomato

Black Beauty tomatoes are indeterminate heirloom tomatoes, meaning they continue producing fruits until the arrival of colder climates in the fall.

The Black Beauty is an abundant beefsteak variety and the world’s darkest tomato with their trademark black (deep purple) flesh. This is caused by anthocyanin, the same antioxidant found in blackberries and blueberries.

Ripening Season

The Black Beauty is a mid to late season intermediate tomato, which means its fruits can ripen and mature at various times rather than all at once. They typically begin ripening from late spring to early summer and can ripen as far as the early months of fall.

Tomato qualities:

While the flesh of these tomatoes can be a deep purple to black shade, the insides are red with a moderate number of seeds. Black Beauties have firm dark flesh, a meaty texture, and are very juicy similar to other beefsteak varieties.

Tomato size

Black Beauty plants grow between three and four feet tall, while the medium-sized tomato fruits grow to 3-7 ounces.

Hand touching Black Beauty tomatoes on the vine.

Planting Zones

The Black Beauty is not a frost-hardy plant. The best zones are Zone 10a to 10b. You get the full, deep, rich black color in these tomatoes when planted in warmer climates with lots of sun during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night

Size and Spacing

You want to start your plants indoors for at least four to eight weeks before the last frost. Sow them 1/4 inch deep in a sterile planting medium.

When ready to plant outdoors, tomatoes need to be planted deeply. Ensure that only the top four to six leaves are showing.

Plant multiple plants 24 inches apart.

Pollination

Black Beauty tomatoes are open-pollinated varieties that “come true” via saved seeds. In other words, you can save your seeds for replanting.

A bumblebee pollinating a tomato blossom.

Plant Care

Pruning is a must for this variety to prevent too much leaf coverage. We also recommend hay as an inexpensive natural mulch for tomatoes that helps keep the soil loose. Avoid using feed hay. Instead, look for Golden and wheat straw.

Sunlight

The anthocyanin in Black Beauty tomatoes activates fully when the fruits are immersed in full sunlight. However, it’s wise to retain some leaf foliage to protect them against sunscald. You’ll have to find the right balance.

Soil

Black tomato varieties like Black Beauty may appear redder when you grow them in acidic soil and more of a blue-purple shade when growing them in alkaline soil. That said, tomatoes usually prefer slightly acidic soil, so you should not expect great-tasting tomatoes if grown in soil with a pH level above seven. Make sure the soil is moist before planting.

Water

Be careful not to allow your plants to dry out. This will put your fruit at risk of splitting and cracking. The lack of water not only ruins your fruit but also increases the risk of disease being introduced into your crop.

If using mulch, constantly water around the base of your plant and keep your foliage dry.

Watering can spout watering the base of a tomato plant.

Fertilizer

Before picking a fertilizer, it’s best to test your soil to see what nutrients are already present. Too much of one nutrient, such as nitrogen, can harm your crop, such as too much foilage growth that takes away your plant’s energy to grow fruits.

If your soil is balanced, then seek a lower fertilizer with lower nitrogen and higher phosphorus, such as a 5-10-10 or 5-10-5. If it needs more nitrogen, then a balanced fertilizer is what you need, such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10.

Pruning/Pinching

As with most tomato plants, you don’t want too many leaves covering your tomatoes, just enough to prevent sunscald. So it’s necessary to aggressively pinch and prune your plant, leaving just a little foliage.

Hand pinching sucker on tomato plant.

Disease

Potassium is essential to help keep your plants free from disease. Black Beauty tomatoes have moderate disease tolerance. However, all heirloom tomatoes are susceptible to conditions such as Blight. You want to ensure that you cut away any foliage that touches the ground.

For more information on tomatoes disease, you can consult this guide.

Pests

There are a variety of pests that will feed on your Black Beauty tomatoes, such as cutworms, aphids, and hornworms. You can find the best strategies to combat these pests in this guide.

When to Harvest Black Beauty Tomatoes

Now, when it comes to harvesting these tomatoes, if you want to preserve the black color, you’ll need to pick them once they turn black on the top and red on the bottom. Be sure not to pick them unless they show green on the bottom. Fully ripened, these tomatoes will turn deep red on the vine without sunlight. You’ll also want to feel them. If they feel too hard, then they are not ready yet. Also, the longer you let them stay on the vine, the sweeter they’ll get.

Black tomatoes in a garden.

Common Uses For Black Beauty Tomatoes

Black Beauty Tomatoes are considered one of the most flavorful tomatoes on the market and perfect for delicious recipes.

Overhead view of a tomato tart.
A tomato tart is a great way to enjoy Black Beauty tomatoes.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

The Black Beauty easily won several tomato taste tests at the 2015 National Heirloom Exposition. It’s a very flavorful tomato with umami notes.

Cooking

You can use Black Beauty tomatoes in soups, sauces, casseroles, salsas, and many other delicious dishes.

Eating raw

These tomatoes amazing in salads and sandwiches are when eaten by themselves with a pinch of salt.

Closeup of cut blackish red tomatoes.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Black Beauty tomatoes preserve very well off the vine. Here are a few techniques you can use to preserve them for later use.

Canning

Tomatoes are very easy to can. You can learn more about this process by clicking here to learn how you can safely store your harvest.

Jars of homemade tomato sauce.

Freezing

You can also freeze your tomatoes. However, frozen tomatoes are only really good for cooked dishes. They taste mushy and lose a lot of flavor when frozen. You can learn more about freezing tomatoes here.

Drying

Dried tomatoes (or “sun-dried) are great ingredients. And you can save lots of money by making your own, plus homemade is often much better than store-bought anyway, right? You can read this article to learn everything you need to know to create delicious sun-dried tomatoes.

Recipe Ideas

Here are a few incredible recipes that are perfect for your Black Beauty tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Heirloom Parmesan Tomatoes

Tomato Pie

Tomato Bacon Squares

Vera Cruz Tomatoes

Health Benefits of Black Beauty Tomatoes

Anthocyanin is not only the cause of Black Beauty’s unique color, but these compounds are also a powerful antioxidant, the same you’ll find in blueberries and blackberries.

And of course, tomatoes are rich in vitamins K and C, folate, and potassium. They are also one of the best natural sources of another powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which is linked to reducing the risks of cancer and heart disease.

Where to Buy Black Beauty Tomato Plants or Seeds

You can purchase Black Beauty Tomato seeds on Amazon, or you may find plants at your local nursery.

Hand planting tomato seeds in starter pots.

Where to Buy Black Beauty Tomatoes

Your best bet for finding Black Beauty tomatoes fruits will be specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods or perhaps your local farmer’s market or farm stand.

Conclusion

Overhead view of a young tomato plant.

Tomato growers are constantly developing new varieties that push the boundaries of what people think of when they hear the word “tomato” and black-colored varieties, like the Black Beauty tomato, are just one of these. But we think you’ll agree, once you try this flavorful and beautiful fruit, you’ll be glad these creative varieties of tomatoes exist!

Do you have experience with Black Beauty tomatoes? Let us know in the comments section below!

And to read more about tomatoes, click here for our other tomato-related blog articles.