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The Monterosa Tomato

Are you tired of the bland, boring, no-name tomatoes in your grocery store produce section?  The developers of the Monterosa tomato certainly were, which is how this homage to the heyday of heirloom tomatoes came to be.  It was created as part of a movement to bring back the taste and appearance of homegrown tomatoes like our grandparents grew.

Four dark pink Monterosa tomatoes on a counter.
Dark pink Monterosa tomatoes may be one of the prettiest tomatoes around!

While Monterosa tomatoes have taken international markets by storm, they’re hard to come by in the United States.  Not impossible, but harder than other tomato varieties.

If you like a challenge, then getting your hands on seeds to grow your own Monterosa tomatoes may be a quest worth pursuing.  Keep reading to learn about this tomato and the best way to add one to your garden!

History of the Monterosa Tomato

The Monterosa tomato collection was developed in Catalonia, Spain and released in 2012.  The project was a collaboration between Semillas Fitó and Gavá Group. “Monterosa” is actually the name of a collection four tomatoes, as well as the name of the specific tomatoes within the collection.  The most well-known of these is the pink Monterosa. 

Monterosa tomatoes are a cross between a Girona pear tomato and the Italian Costoluto Genoveso tomato.They were bred to be part of the Mediterranean diet and to bring back the signature flavor and look of traditional heirloom tomatoes.  They were also created to fill a market demand for winter tomatoes in Spain.

In April 2021 the Monterosa was named the “best natural and organic product” at the World Food Innovation Awards.

Characteristics of the Monterosa Tomato

The Monterosa tomato is a indeterminate heirloom that grows 5-6 feet high, with a medium spread.  It produces asymmetrical, deep pink fruit — but Monterosas also come in yellow, orange, and “chocolate” colors.

Closeup of two large, pink heirloom tomatoes ripening on the vine.

Ripening Season

Monterosas are early- to mid-season tomatoes, with fruit maturing 60 days after transplanting.

Tomato Qualities

Monterosas are “Mediterranean tomatoes” characterized by deep ribs, colorful sepals, and “velvety” skin.  The meat is soft and a classic, “herbaceous” tomato aroma.

Tomato Size

The first fruits a Monterosa tomato produces are the largest — around 14 oz.  As the season continues, the fruit gets smaller.

Display of Monterosa tomato fruit for sale.

Planting Zones

There’s no information about the US hardiness zones the Monterosa tomato will grow in, but it should grow in zones most tomatoes are grown in (for northern regions where frost can occur year-round, use a greenhouse).

Size and Spacing

Plant tomato seedlings deeply, with only the top 1-2 sets of leaves showing (after planting, pinch off the others). Moisten the soil prior to planting.

Plant tomatoes 24-36 inches apart with cages, stakes, or a trellis to support vines.

Pollination

Tomatoes are self-pollinating and need only natural pollinators like bees and wind to get the job done when planted outside.  In a greenhouse, gently shake the plant or tap each flower individually to pollinate the flowers.

Bumblebee pollinating a tomato blossom.

Plant Care

Reports are that Monterosa tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, requiring only average tomato 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.  You may also be interested in our blog post on how to grow big tomatoes!

Sunlight

Tomatoes are full sun plants and need 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.

Soil

Tomatoes love soil that is neutral (a pH between 6.0-6.5), well-draining, and amended with compost and decomposed manure to a depth of 24-36 inches. Adding crushed or ground eggshells to the soil may also help prevent blossom end rot.

Person planting tomato in the garden.

Water

Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around your tomato plants, keeping the ground clear of mulch three inches around the base of the plant. Water on a regular basis at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry. Most tomatoes need an inch of water each week.

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/Pinching

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 sucker off a tomato plant.

Disease

The Monterosa tomato was bred for resistance to several diseases that plague commercial growers such as Tomato Mosaic Virus (ToMV), Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV), and Verticilium (Vd).

Still, it’s best to take normal precautions against common diseases like blight, fusarium wilt, Septoria leaf spot,, and Southern bacterial wilt. Keeping the foliage dry by watering the base of the plant and removing any foliage in contact with the soil are your best defenses against tomato plant disease.

To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.

Pests

Growing tomatoes means dealing with pests. Aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, slugs, pill bugs, stink bugs, and rodents are just a few to be on the lookout for. Companion plants like marigolds, catnip, fennel, dill, basil, and cilantro repel common tomato pests. Netting keeps out birds and larger pests, but may interfere with beneficial insects and pollinators.

For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

A bird perched on a tomato cage.

When to Harvest Monterosa Tomatoes

In the warmest zones, Monterosas may be ready for picking in late May/early June.  They’ll be a deep pink color (unless you grow one of the other colored Monterosas) and will have the classic, heirloom tomato scent when they’re ripe.

Common Uses For Monterosa Tomatoes

Monterosa tomatoes were created to be a Mediterranean diet ingredient, which means they’re great in Mediterranean recipes.  They can be used in all your favorite fresh and cooked tomato recipes.

Slices of dark pink heirloom tomato on a red cutting board.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

Monterosas taste sweet and fruity, with no acidity.  They’re described as having an intense garden tomato flavor.

Cooking

Monterosa tomatoes can be used in any tomato recipe. The color of the different fruit varieties will give your sauces and chilies an interesting appearance and great flavor.

Eating Raw

Monterosas are ideal for salads, salsas, fresh dips, and bruschetta toppings.

Closeup of tomato bruschetta.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Like most tomatoes, Monterosas can be preserved by canningfreezing, and drying them.

Recipe Ideas 

Greek Salad

Tomato Cream

Lasagna Rosa

Mediterranean Timbale

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

All tomatoes are high in fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They’re also a dietary source of lycopene, an antioxidant credited with reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer.

Closeup of Monterosa tomato cut in half.

Where to Buy Monterosa Tomato Plants or Seeds

We weren’t able to find Monterosa tomato plants and seeds on the websites of any US retailers.  Currently, seeds are only available through Semillas Fitó and a few other online retailers outside the US.  (If you find do them through a US retailer, we’d love for you to tell us where you purchase them in the comments for this post!)

Where to Buy Monterosa Tomatoes

In 2017 Semillas Fitó and Mastronardi Produce Ltd  formed an agreement for distribution of Monterosas in the US, but the Monterosa tomato is not yet listed on Mastronardi’s “Tomatoes” page.

Fresh Monterosas are sold online through Fitó, overseas orders of fresh tomatoes may not be an option for US consumers.

Wrapping Up the Monterosa Tomato

Pink Monterosa tomatoes in and next to basket.

Monterosa tomatoes are a nostalgic throwback to the classic tomatoes grown in our grandparents’ gardens.  Their award-winning flavor and beautiful appearance make this heirloom worth tracking down for your own garden!

Have you come across Monterosa tomato seeds or been lucky enough to enjoy one of these luscious fruits? If so, we definitely want to know about it in the comments section below! To read about other interesting and tasty tomatoes, click here for our tomato blog posts.