What Are Orange Tomatoes?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Simply put, orange tomatoes are tomatoes which are orange, rather than the more conventional red. When people talk about orange tomatoes, they are either referring to certain heirloom tomato varieties which are orange in color, or to a specially bred tomato varietal which has very high amounts of beta-carotene. In either case, the tomato might look a bit weird and certainly distinctive, with a bright orange exterior and an orange interior. However, orange tomatoes taste just like regular tomatoes, although they will of course produce orange ketchup, tomato sauce, and juice blends.

Orange tomatoes can often be found at a local farmer's market.
Orange tomatoes can often be found at a local farmer's market.

In the world of heirloom tomatoes, tomatoes come in a lot of colors. In addition to classic red, heirlooms also come in orange, yellow, green, and purple. It is also not uncommon to see tomato varietals which are streaked with multiple colors. Some famous heirloom orange varieties include: Dad's Sunset, Golden Jubilee, Orange King, Sweet Orange, Patio Orange, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, and Yellow Brandywines. Each of these varieties has a distinctive appearance, texture, and flavor.

Orange tomatoes may be best utilized in a salad.
Orange tomatoes may be best utilized in a salad.

Orange tomatoes in the heirloom garden come in a range of sizes, from tiny cherry tomatoes to big, juicy beefsteaks. Many people like to grow heirloom tomatoes because they look unusual, and also because they tend to be packed with flavor, and the flavor is more complex and interesting than that of an ordinary red supermarket tomato. Orange varieties can be used in salads, juices, pizzas, sauces, and so forth, adding flavor and color. They also tend to be lower in acid than red tomatoes, which can be appealing for people who have been told to eat a low acid diet.

Orange tomatoes illustrate the incredible diversity of heirloom tomato varieties. If you think of tomatoes as insipid red vegetables piled up in the produce section or stuffed into cans, you haven't had an opportunity to see the range of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors in the tomato world. A farmers' market or greengrocer is a good place to start when searching for new tomato varieties, and you can also try your hand at growing them at home, using seeds or sprouts which can be obtained from garden stores or heirloom tomato suppliers.

John R. Stommel, an agricultural researcher in Maryland, has produced a very special orange tomato varietal. His orange varieties are that color because they have an extremely high percentage of beta-carotene, the same substance which turns carrots and pumpkins orange. This substance is incredibly valuable in the human diet; Stommel hoped to make beta-carotene consumption easier with his orange tomatoes, which had not been released on the open market as of 2008, although they are likely to appear soon.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I must like the acidity of the red tomatoes since I prefer their taste over the more bland orange. But any homegrown tomato tastes better than anything you find in your local supermarket.


I came here because I've just begun growing tomatoes for the first time. Strangely, one, of a group of what will be red, dropped to the ground early, still very green. I took it in the house, put it in a brown bag about two-three weeks ago and now it is orange, feeling tender (so I think it is ripe). What I don't understand is why it is orange when all of the rest of the plant are growing red?


You forgot to mention an old orange heirloom tomato, the Amana. I have had these and they are large and wonderful! I'm looking for a plant to put in my small garden this year. Also a big fan of pink tomatoes!

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