The Black Krim tomato is an heirloom tomato that is beloved among chefs worldwide. The large, dark fruits are known for their amazing flavor and when used as a raw ingredient, they add beautiful color to dishes. If you’re looking for a tomato that adds visual interest to your garden and cooking, then keep reading to learn about the Black Krim tomato.
History of the Black Krim Tomato
The Black Krim tomato comes to us from the Crimean Peninsula, which is why it’s also known as a “Black Crimea” tomato (or a Noire de Crimee). It’s thought that soldiers who returned home at the end of the Crimean War (1856) gathered up Black Krim tomato seeds that were then passed down through their families.
Black Krim tomatoes became known outside of Crimea when they were introduced to Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) in 1990 by Lars Olov Rosenstrom of Sweden. These were the first commercially available “black” tomatoes in the US.
Characteristics of the Black Krim Tomato
The Black Krim (Lycopersicon esculentum or Solanum lycopersicum ‘Black Krim’) is a beefsteak tomato that turns a dark maroon color with “green shoulders” — the area on the tomato right around the stem. The more sun exposure a Black Krim gets, the darker the color it turns. When grown in very hot and sunny climates, the color deepens to almost black — hence, the name.
The Black Krim is a mid- to late-season indeterminate tomato, meaning its fruit will mature and ripen at different times, rather than all at once. Black Krims start to ripen in August. Under ideal conditions, you’ll be able to harvest into September, at which time the nighttime temperatures will drop and bring tomato season to an end.
The inside of a Black Krim contains reddish-green flesh with a moderate to low number of seeds. Their flavor is described as sweet but also salty, with a smoky quality to it.
Black Krim tomatoes are medium- to large-sized fruit (6-12 ounces) with a somewhat flattened shape. The size and weight of the fruit makes Black Krims prone to cracking.
Black Krim tomatoes are frost-tender and do best in plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. They have been grown all the way into zones 7 and 6, although the cooler temperatures could affect the size of the fruit your plants will produce.
In climates with long growing seasons, you can plant seeds outdoors 2-4 weeks after last frost. Otherwise, start your Black Krim tomato seedlings indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost (do research to know when this will happen in your area).
Size and Spacing
Tomato plants should be planted deeply with only the top 4-6 leaves showing. Moisten the soil prior to planting. Plant tomatoes 24-36 inches between plants.
Once planted, tamp the soil gently — do not compact it. Water your newly planted tomatoes thoroughly, taking care not to get the leaves wet. You may also apply fertilizer at this time.
Set up stakes or cages because the Black Krim grows between 4 and 6 feet tall.
Tomatoes are self-pollinating, which means you can grow a single tomato plant and still get fruit from it. They’ll also pollinate naturally with help from bees, birds, and wind. Greenhouse tomatoes may need to be artificially pollinated to ensure a crop of fruit.
Proper planting is only the start of things. You also need to know how to provide the ongoing care that your Black Krim tomato needs so that you’ll be rewarded with a healthy tomato harvest.
The following sections will provide highlights about tomato care. For a complete guide on optimal tomato plant care, from planting to harvesting and storage, please check out our article on How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide For the Best Tomatoes. You may also be interested in our blog post on how to grow big tomatoes!
Tomatoes need a sunny, but sheltered, location where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight. 8 or more is better.
The soil tomatoes grow in should be well-draining and amended with compost and decomposed manure to a depth of 24-36 inches. For heavy or clay soils, raised beds with a soil mix tailored to the needs of tomatoes should be used for planting tomatoes.
Allowing the soil around your tomato plants to dry out puts the fruit at risk for cracking and splitting. Not only could this ruin the fruit, but it could provide a means for disease to enter your plant.
Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around your tomato plants, but keep the ground clear of mulch three inches around the base of the plant. Water on a regular basis and always water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry.
Tomatoes require specific nutrients (such as calcium) to produce their best crops of fruit. To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.
Pruning and pinching are a tomato care technique that can help your tomato put forth its best yield. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.
Black Krims are known to be susceptible to blight and Fusarium or Verticullium Wilts. Experts recommend rotating the location of heriloom tomato plants each year as a preventive measure against blight and other diseases.
During the growing season, check your tomatoes often for signs of fungal infection. If you see any dead or dying foliage, remove and dispose of it in the trash.
To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.
Tomatoes are often plagued by aphids and whiteflies. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of these tiny critters. If you find them, treat with powder, neem oil, or insecticidal soap (only when temps below 90 degrees F). Don’t spray your tomato plants with water to avoid risk of fungal infection.
Tomato hornworms are another tomato pest. Unlike aphids and whiteflies, they’re large and easy to spot. If you find tomato hornworms on your tomato plants, remove them by hand (they only look scary).
For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.
When to Harvest Black Krim Tomatoes
In August, start checking your Black Krim tomato plants for harvesting. Fruit that is ripe will easily release from the stems. Expect an average of 30 tomatoes per plant harvested over a period of about 30 days. You’ll need to visit your plants every few days to pick tomatoes.
Picked Black Krim tomatoes can be kept on the counter. They’re best if eaten within 1-2 days of picking.
Common Uses for Black Krim Tomatoes
Chefs and tomato-lovers, in general, count the Black Krim among their favorite tomatoes. Use them just as you’d use any variety of tomato.
What Does the Black Krim Tomato Taste Like?
The Black Kim tomato has been described as tasting sweet, but also a little salty, with a subtle smoky flavor. There’s a reason why Black Krims score high in taste trials. They’re especially popular on the west coast of the US, but they’re a favorite of chefs everywhere.
Black Krim tomatoes are great for sauces, soups, stews, casseroles — basically any way you’d use other varieties of tomatoes or canned tomato sauce. Here’s a link to a homemade tomato sauce recipe to turn your Black Krims into sauce to use in another recipe.
Their flavor makes Black Krim tomatoes ideal for juicing to use in cocktails. Gourmet restaurants feature Black Krims in sandwiches and the gorgeous color makes them a great choice for tomato salads and salsas.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
If your Black Krim tomato plant produces more fruit than you can eat raw, you’ll need to preserve your harvest.
Tomatoes are some of the easiest produce to can. Click here for an article that will tell you everything you need to know to safely can and store your tomato harvest.
Tomatoes can also be frozen, although you might never have thought about doing that. Frozen tomatoes become mushy when thawed out, so use them for cooked foods. For the best way to freeze your tomatoes, read this article.
Dried tomatoes (known as “sun dried”) are fantastic ingredients, but they can be pricey. Making your own will save money and give you better-tasting dried tomatoes than store-bought. This article covers three drying methods for creating delicious preserved tomatoes.
Recipe Ideas for Black Krim Tomatoes
Tomatoes are high in vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. But they’re one of the best dietary sources of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that’s been credited with reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer. So tomatoes aren’t just delicious — they’re healthy too.
Where to Buy Black Krim Tomato Plants or Seeds
Where to Buy Black Krim Tomatoes
Black Krim tomatoes aren’t widely grown commercially, so you aren’t likely to find them in your grocery store’s produce department. Farmers markets, farm stands, or even pick-your-own tomato farms will be your best bet. Do some research to find out if local farms grow Black Krim tomatoes and contact them directly.
Wrapping Up the Black Krim Tomato
The Black Krim tomato entered the world tomato scene in 1990 and it has developed quite the culinary fan base since then. It’s best known for its unique sweet, salty, and smoky flavor, but the beautiful dark color doesn’t hurt either.
Tomatoes are one of the easiest fruit-bearing plants to grow once you know the basics of the care they need. You can buy Black Krim tomato plants from online retailers or start them indoors from seed to enjoy delicious end-of-summer tomatoes.
Have a tip about growing Black Krims or a favorite recipe to use for Black Krim tomatoes? Feel free to share it in the comments below! (And for more information on tomatoes, click here for our other tomato-related blog articles.)