The tomato is one of the most consumed and appreciated vegetables in the whole world. According to the Plant Introduction Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), up to 10,000 varieties of the scientifically-named Solanum lycopersicum have existed, although today only 20% continue to be cultivated.
In Spain, tomatoes are only second to potatoes when we are talking about the most popular fresh vegetables, according to data from the Spanish Federation of Fruit, Vegetable, Flower and Live Plant Producer Associations (FEPEX).
In the year 2017, tomato consumption stood at 12.8 kilos per person per year, which represents 23.1% of the total consumption of fresh vegetables, according to the report Food in Spain, elaborated by Mercasa.
Breeding tomato varieties to get new shapes, colors and tastes, as well as resistances to certain diseases, has led to more than 10,000 varieties being known. It is clear that not all reach the Spanish market, but it is true that more and more varieties are becoming available throughout the year, even though tomatoes are a summer product. In fact, that is when this food is actually at its best.
One of the most common ways to consume tomatoes is in salads, accompanied by lettuce and other vegetables, used either as a main dish or as an accompaniment. Other varieties are more suitable for the preparation of, preserves, gazpachos or fried tomato. Although the list of tomato varieties is extensive, we have selected some of the most consumed in Spain:
Raf: Slightly flattened tomato. It is very versatile; it can be consumed fresh or canned. It has a crispy texture and a taste between sweet and sour, thanks to the resistance to water with high salt content and the water often containing a high salt content. Irregular and uneven in shape, it is considered a premium variety because of its highly appreciated flavor. It gets its name from the abbreviation of "Resistant To Fusarium".
Cherry: This small variety is used mainly for salads and garnishes because of its crunchy texture and sweet taste. It is also known as dwarf tomato. It has a thin skin of an intense red color. There are yellow, green or black varieties.
Plum: As the name suggests, this tomato variety is plum-shaped, with a smooth and hard skin and a bright red color. It can be found in red, orange and yellow colors. It can be eaten both fresh and in sauces and gazpachos, although it is one of the preferred ones by the canning industry, given its sweet taste.
Tomato on the vine: This fruit, called 'hanging tomato' in Spanish is often of medium-small size, has a round, slightly crushed shape. It is orange-red in color and is sold in clusters, so that they can be hung. It can be stored for several months. It has a large amount of pulp and less water, making it ideal to spread on bread. It is also often used in stews.
Montserrat or Monterrosa: Its most remarkable feature is its inside, because it has a large gap that makes them ideal for filling. It has a consistent skin and is available in various colors, like green, pink and even deep red. It has a similar look to that of a pumpkin.
Rosa de Barbastro: it is considered one of the best according to the Spanish themselves. It has a sweet and citrus-like flavor, with a pinkish color and a very thin skin. It also has a soft and compact pulp. It is very aromatic and has a highly appreciated flavor. It is suitable for any type of salad, although it can also be consumed alone, with a little oil, salt and pepper.
Roma: the fruits are small, with a fleshy pulp. It is especially suitable for frying or preserving, as well as to prepare gazpacho and salmorejo.
Pepper: this variety stands out for its shape, which is similar to that of a pepper. It has an intense red color and it is also very tasty and easy to digest.
Coeur de Boef: it has a heart shape; it is large and has few seeds. It is one of the most appreciated, mostly because of its sweet taste, and people consume it in a simple way: with a little salt and good quality oil. It is a very tasty and juicy tomato, but also highly resistant.
Ugly of Tudela: Highly appreciated variety. It has a large size and a very tough skin, a quite fleshy pulp and a low number of seeds. Its color is intense red and it has a sweet flavor and an extra touch of sour, compared to other varieties.
Jack: It is large in size, between green and red, with a fruity aroma. It is very appreciated for salads. It has a lot of flesh and few seeds.
Kumato: considered a gourmet tomato, it has a sweet flavor and a great juiciness that make it special for salads. It is a hybrid obtained from the crossing of other tomatoes. Its color is very dark, almost black (it is also called black tomato, although it is not); it has a rounded shape and is rich in lycopene, a natural substance with antioxidant properties that is present in greater concentrations in the skin.