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The Japanese Black Trifele Tomato

The intriguing pear-shaped Japanese Black Trifele tomato is unlike any other tomato. It sports a beautiful two-tone color, meaty texture, and an equally complex but delicious flavor. Below, we are going to share why these durable, productive plants are a favorite among growers.

Closeup of single pear tomato, similar to the shape of a Japanese Black Trifele tomato.
Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes will appear darker than this pear tomato and will have green “shoulders” around the stem.

History of the Japanese Black Trifele Tomato

The Japanese Black Trifle tomatoes began as a Russian commercial variety first made public by Klagshamn, Sweden resident Ake Truedsson in the 1999 Seed Savers Exchange yearbook.

The plant’s name also changed from Yaponskly Trufel Chernyl to Japanese Trifele Black when the seed found its way to North America.

They are also known as Black Russian Truffle and Japanese Trifele Black.

Characteristics of the Japanese Black Trifele Tomato

Many northeastern growers praise this tomato variety’s resilience, stating that where other varieties have failed, they were able to grow successful Japanese Black Trifele harvests year after year. Here are a few notable characteristics of the Japanese Black Trifele Tomato.

  • Indeterminate
  • Heirloom
  • Easy to grow
  • Durable
  • Prolific producer
  • Potato Leaves
  • Crack-resistant
  • Sweet, complex flavor
  • Pear-shaped
  • Drought-tolerant
  • High Heat
Young green pear tomatoes on the vine.

Ripening Season

This variety ripens mid-late season (69-80 days).

Tomato qualities

Pear-shaped with the skin of deep burgundy with green shoulders. And they have a meaty texture.

Tomato size

These fruits can grow between 1.5-2.5 inches big and weigh between 4-5 ounces.

SIngle pear tomato.
Classic shape of a pear tomato.

Planting Zones

Japanese Black Trifele Tomato plants grow in USDA hardiness zones 3-11.

Size and Spacing

Japanese Black Trifele plants can grow between 4-8 feet high and 2-3 feet wide. Their climbing vines require the support of a stake, cage, or trellis. When transplanted outdoors, they should be planted 2-3 feet apart.

Tomato plant tied to a bamboo stake.

Pollination

Since Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes are heirlooms, they are open-pollinated — meaning they rely on natural pollinators such as birds, bees, bumblebees, and the win.

Plant Care

Despite its fancy looks, the Japanese Black Trifele is a pretty easy tomato plant to care for and doesn’t require any special care outside of the standard best practices for growing tomatoes.

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.

Closeup of dark red pear tomatoes on the vine.
These organic pear tomatoes are similar to the Japanese Black Trifele in shape, but are lighter in color.

Soil

Tomatoes need soil that’s slightly acidic, loamy, and packed with nutrients. The ideal soil temperature for transplanting is 55 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 6.0-6.8.

Fertilizer

Since most tomato varieties are heavy feeders, they need fertilizer abundant in organic material and have higher phosphorus and potassium levels but low to moderate nitrogen levels. When shopping for fertilizer, you’ll notice products with three numbers. They represent the NPK or Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratio. A soil test can help you figure out what soil mix best suits your garden, or you can try an all-purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10.

To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.

Water

It would be best if you watered your plants daily. It’s recommended to spread about 2-3 inches of mulch around the plant, but leave at least three inches of space around the base of your tomato plant.

When you water, water your plant at the base and never on the plant or leaves because doing so may cause sunscald and some bacterial infections. It’s also recommended that you provide 1-1.5 inches of water each week to your plant.

Person watering tomatoes with watering can.

Sunlight

Tomatoes require lots of direct sunlight, between 6-10 hours per day. And while this variety is very heat-resistant, on days when temperatures reach over 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s still a good idea to cover the plants with a shade cloth to help prevent sunscald.

Pruning/Pinching

Pruning is a very important part of maintaining healthy and productive tomato plants. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.

Disease

Heirloom tomatoes have a reputation for their natural resistance to many diseases. But, they are not completely immune. To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.

Pests

Tomatoes are plagued by different pests such as cutworms, birds, snails, hornworms, grasshoppers, rabbits, and more. For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

When to Harvest Japanese Black Trifele Tomatoes

Since Japanese Black Trifele is a mid to late-season tomato, harvest season starts around mid-July to late September the first year and mid-September to mid-November the second year.

Pear tomatoes ripening on the vine.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes have a rich and complex flavor that’s a bit on the sweeter side.

Cooking

You can use these tomatoes in many recipes, such as soups, stews, baked dishes. They are even great on the grill!

Eating raw

These are wonderful when eaten raw, but the best time to eat them is before they fully ripen or when they have green shoulders. They are meaty with a unique flavor that’s great in salads and on sandwiches. They are also wonderful eaten by themselves with a bit of salt.

Closeup of fresh tomato salsa.

Canning/Freezing/Drying

Japanese Black Trifele is a great canning tomato. You can learn more about how to can tomatoes by reading this informative guide.

And when it comes to freezing, frozen tomatoes are best suited for stews and soups. However, once frozen, they become mushy and water when eaten raw.

These tomatoes also are very flavorful when sundried and can be used as a seasoning in many recipes. You can consult this handy guide to learn more about how to make sundried tomatoes.

Bowl of dried tomatoes.

Recipe Ideas

The Japanese Black Trifele tomato is a fantastic addition to any recipe, offering a unique flavor and texture unlike anything you’ve tasted. Here are a few delicious recipe ideas using Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes.

Baked eggplant with tomatoes, cheese, and herbs.

Health Benefits of Japanese Black Trifele Tomatoes

You can find tons of incredibly healthy nutrients in tomatoes. They are rich in fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamins B, C, E, and K. They are also a fantastic natural source for lycopene — a potent antioxidant. Researchers believe this substance may reduce a person’s risk of contracting cancer or heart disease.

Lycopene also boosts your immune system to fight free radicals that harm your cells. And let’s not forget your heart. Lycopene helps lower LDL, also known as “bad cholesterol,” and lowers your blood pressure.

And for your eyes, tomatoes contain substances known as zeaxanthin and lutein, which can help protect your eyes from damage caused by blue light sources such as computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Where to Buy Japanese Black Trifele Tomato Plants or Seeds

You can often find Japanese Black Trifele Tomato seeds in a few garden centers and nurseries. The plants are more likely to be in nurseries, although you’ll likely have better luck buying seeds.

Where to Buy Japanese Black Trifele Tomatoes

It’s rare to find Japanese Black Trifele fruits in the store. Although, you might have some luck at specialty grocery stores. However, your best bet for buying just the fruits will likely be local farms and farmer’s markets.

A Final Word on the Japanese Black Trifele Tomato

Basket of pear tomatoes.

The Japanese Black Trifele tomato is a deliciously mysterious and intriguing fruit with a deep and complex flavor gorgeous appearance, and are known to be outstanding producers year after year. If you’re looking for a unique tomato variety that doesn’t require a lot of fuss, the Japanese Black Triefele tomato is definitely worth a try.

Do you grow the unique Japanese Black Trifele tomato in your garden? Let us know about it in the comments section below! To read about other tomato varieties, click here for our tomato blog posts.