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The German Lunchbox Tomato

As the name indicates, German Lunchbox tomatoes are small and have a good balance of sweetness. They’re slightly larger than typical cherry tomatoes but not as big as full-size tomatoes. But don’t let their size deceive you — there’s lots to love about these little guys!

If you’re curious about the origin of German Lunchbox tomatoes and all the ways you can use them, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to see if this tomato is one you should include in your garden this spring.

Red tomatoes on vine similar to German Lunchbox tomatoes.

History of the German LunchboxTomato

No shock here, but the German Lunchbox tomato has its origins in Germany. It made its way to the United States via the hands of a German family that immigrated to the states. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri, managed to purchase some of the seeds from this German family. In 2006, Baker Creek released the German Lunchbox tomato on a commercial level. It’s been a favorite among tomato-lovers ever since.

Characteristics of the German Lunchbox Tomato

The German Lunchbox is an indeterminate heirloom tomato the size of a small egg. From the tomato species known as Solanum Lycopersicum, German Lunchbox plants produce pink tomatoes and grow regular leaves.

Ripening Season

German Lunchbox tomatoes take anywhere from 65 to 80 days to mature once they’ve been planted. Because you should wait until after the last frost to plant your seeds, the ripening season is from early to mid-season. However, they’ll continue to produce fruit throughout the year as long as they’re cared for.

If desired, you can even plant German Lunchbox seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost of the year. You’ll then be rewarded with tomatoes as early as April or May.

Tomato qualities

The German Lunchbox tomato is on the sweet side and has been described as fruit candy. They produce a pleasant crunch when you bite into a ripe one.

Tomato size

German Lunchbox tomatoes are the size of a small egg, making them slightly larger than the typical cherry tomato.

Girl holding three small red tomatoes.

Planting Zones

Hardiness zones 5-8 are best for the German Lunchbox tomato. However, they can thrive in zones up to hardiness zone 11, as long as they aren’t exposed to frost.

Size and Spacing

The size of German Lunchbox tomato plants varies significantly from grower to grower and from year to year. On average, however, they are bush plants that can range from 2 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. When planting your tomatoes in the ground rather than in a pot, you should space them 18 to 36 inches apart. The more space they have, the better they will grow.

Row o f young tomato plants.

Pollination

German Lunchbox tomatoes are open pollinating and benefit from pollen from insects and bees. They’re also self-pollinating, which means that you don’t have to cross them with other tomato plants.

Plant Care

Taking proper care of your tomato plant is crucial to having it produce year after year. German Lunchbox tomatoes are fairly hardy plants but still require a lot of care.

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.

Sunlight

The German Lunchbox tomato should get six to eight hours of full sunlight per day. The ideal temperature to grow them is between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Soil

Tomatoes require well-drained and nutrient-rich soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. It’s a good idea to work a mixture of compost and manure into the ground to aid in drainage and nutrients. It’s a good idea to put a two or three-inch layer of mulch around your plants to prevent weeds from growing into your plant.

Person planting tomato in garden.

Water

German Lunchbox tomato plants require a great deal of water, and you’ll likely have to water your plant several times per day.

Fertilizer

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

Indeterminate tomato plants such as the German Lunchbox tomato require moderate pruning. They typically have “suckers” on them that you must remove. Suckers are difficult to spot until you know what to look for. They’re located close to the main stem of the plant.

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.

Person pinching suckers off tomato plant.

Disease

Like all tomatoes, the German Lunchbox is prone to several diseases. They will typically start to rot prematurely and fall away from the plant if infected. To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.

Pests

Diseases aren’t the only things that are out to get your tomatoes. Pests such as bugs, beetles, birds, and rodents also love to partake of German Lunchbox tomato flesh. For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

When to Harvest German Lunchbox Tomatoes

German Lunchbox tomatoes are a mid-season product usually ripe for harvesting in early May to June. They will continue to produce until it becomes too cold throughout the summer months. A good sign that tomatoes are ready for harvesting is when they turn from green to bright red.

Closeup of small round tomatoes on the vine.

Common Uses For German Lunchbox Tomatoes

These tomatoes are perfect for a number of applications. They’re the ideal size to put into a salad or even to eat raw as a sweet treat.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

German Lunchbox tomatoes are very sweet to the taste when harvested at the proper time. Waiting too long will result in rotten tomatoes, whereas eating them too early results in bitter, unripe ones.

Cooking

Whether you’re making chili, pasta, stew, or anything else requiring tomatoes, the German Lunchbox is an excellent choice.

Man cutting a small red tomato on a cutting board.

Eating Raw

Because of how sweet it is, the German Lunchbox is an excellent treat to eat raw. Make sure, however, that you wash them before eating as poisonous leaf particles can drop onto the fruits.

Canning

Many people love to can tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and marinara to store up for later. The German Lunchbox is excellent for these purposes and will be long-lasting if stored properly.

Recipe Ideas

Here are a few great recipe ideas to get you started with your German Lunchbox tomatoes.

Keto Tomato Marinara Sauce

Parmesan Roasted Campari Tomatoes

Tomato Basil Soup

Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

Bowl of tomato soup with small tomatoes next to it.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Apart from being delicious, tomatoes are quite healthy. They’re a great source of vitamins C, K, and A and potassium. Here are a few of their known health benefits.

  • They reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.
  • They improve your vision and digestive health.
  • They protect against various forms of cancer.

Where to Buy German Lunchbox Tomato Plants or Seeds

Your best bet is to purchase German Lunchbox tomato seeds or plants online or at a local hardware store. Ace Hardware, Menards, and Lowes often have an ample supply of tomato seeds and plants.

Where to Buy German Lunchbox Tomatoes

German Lunchbox tomatoes aren’t available everywhere in the U.S. They’re predominantly grown in the midwest, but there’s a chance that your local grocery store or farmers market may have some.

Wrapping Up the German LunchboxTomato

Closeup of small tomatoes on plant vine.

Whether you’re looking for a tasty addition to your salad or soup or love plain tomatoes, the German Lunchbox is a winner. They’re also a resilient and fruitful plant with limited maintenance if you enjoy growing tomatoes. No matter what you enjoy most with tomatoes, you won’t regret adding the German Lunchbox to your repertoire.

Do you grow German Lunchbox tomatoes in your garden? If so, let us know about your experiences with it in the comments section below! To read about other tomato varieties, click here for our tomato blog posts.