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The Black Krim Tomato

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.

Closeup of fruit on a Black Krim tomato plant.

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.

Closeup of a Black Krim tomato.

Ripening Season

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.

Tomato qualities: tart, sweet, firm, etc

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.

Overhead view of a cut Black Krim tomato and a whole Black Krim tomato.

Tomato size

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.  

Planting Zones

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.

Closeup of tomato seedlings growing outdoors.

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).

Woman's hands planting tomato seeds in starter pots.

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. 

Closeup of man's hands planting a young tomato 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.

Pollination

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.

Closeup of a Black Krim tomato blossom.

Plant Care

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.

Sunlight

Tomatoes need a sunny, but sheltered, location where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight.  8 or more is better.

Soil

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.

Water

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.

Fertilizer

Once blossoms start to appear on your tomato plant, add extra compost, a cup of compost tea, or a slow-release tomato fertilizer on the soil near the roots. Do this every 1-2 weeks until the first frost of the fall kills the plant.

Pruning/Pinching

Believe it or not, lush, bushy tomato plants won’t give you many (if any tomatoes) — you have to prune/pinch them pretty aggressively!  This short video will explain all you need to know about suckers and how to remove them so that your plants will produce the best yield of fruit.

Closeup of man's hand pinching sucker off tomato plant.

Disease

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.

Pests

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).

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.

Black Krim tomatoes on counter.

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.

Baked eggplant with tomato, garlic, and herbs.

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.

Cooking

Woman making tomato sauce.

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.

Eating Raw

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.

Closeup of cut a Black Krim tomato next to whole Black Krim tomatoes.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

If your Black Krim tomato plant produces more fruit than you can eat raw, you’ll need to preserve your harvest.

Canning

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.

Ravioli with tomato herb sauce.

Freezing

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.

Drying

Bowl of sun dried tomatoes.

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 

Caprese with tomato, mozzarella, and asparagus.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

Caprese Salad (for the video version, click here).

Bruschetta

Bolognese Sauce

Bloody Mary

Black Krim Tomato Marmalade

Health Benefits

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

Black Krim tomato plants can be purchased from Nature Hills Nursery. Seeds can be purchased from online retailers like Amazon.com.

Where to Buy Black Krim Tomatoes

Pile of ripe 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

Closeup of Black Krim tomatoes on plate.

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.)