The bigger the better! This statement rings true with tomato breeders and heirloom collectors seeking to find bigger and better monster beefsteak tomatoes that don’t shirk on taste, productivity, or disease resistance. For many summer gardeners, nothing tastes better than the simple pleasure of a sweet beefsteak tomato slice drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and sprinkled with a touch of salt and pepper, and bigger just means more.
Beefsteak tomatoes are extra-large slicers that can reach a pound or more. There are a lot more to these tomato giants than reliable standards like ‘Big Beef’ and ‘Beefmaster’ grown by our parents and grandparents, as good as these varieties may be. Innovation and discovery have brought us a wealth of new beefsteaks fit for the garden. New variants come in novel and interesting colors, textures, and flavors desired by more discriminating gardeners and cooks.
Classic red tomatoes are the most sought after for their traditional looks and rich flavor. Like red wines, red and dark colored tomatoes tend to have the richest and robust flavor. With so many great red varieties to choose from, we chose some of our absolute favorites.
Said to be one of the largest beefsteak hybrids available, ‘Steakhouse Hybrid’ is a Burpee exclusive and has red, flavorful, lobed fruits that reach up to 3 pounds each. The indeterminate (vining) plants produce well through summer. Bred by New Jersey Gardener Minnie Zaccharia, ‘Big Zac Hybrid’ is another supergiant with flavorful red fruits known to reach up to 6 pounds each—almost enough for a whole pot of sauce! Another comparable big red with big flavor is ‘Italian Sweet’, a deep red Italian slicer with notably sweet fruits that average 3 pounds each. For flawless, disease-resistant beefsteak tomatoes with smooth red skin and great flavor choose ‘Mountain Fresh Plus’. Its fruits can reach 1.5 pounds and the plants are impressively resistant to fusarium and verticillium wilt as well as root-knot nematodes.
A number of pink tomatoes have robust flavor as well as good looks. Uniform in shape and with outstanding taste, ‘Mexico’ is a large beefsteak with dark pink skin that is also a high producer. Its fruits bear all season and consistently weigh around 1 pound each. Similarly, the pinkish purple ‘Boondocks’ bears 1 pound fruits with a good sugar to acid balance as does the truly pink ‘Dester’, which is very large, pretty and has an award-winning taste.
Oranges or Golds
There are lots of gold, orange, and yellow beefsteak tomatoes, but many taste fairly bland or acidic. A few exceptions are huge and have a knock-your-socks-off taste.
Tangerine orange and weighing up to 2 pounds per tomato, ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast’ is a Michigan heirloom with very rich, sweet taste and dense flesh. The excellent quality of the fruit makes the moderate production of the vines worth the effort. Another American heirloom of comparable quality is ‘Kentucky Beefsteak’ with its equally brilliant orange fruits and super sweetness. As the name suggests, the meaty fruits of ‘Persimmon’ are the golden orange color of a ripe persimmon and beautifully round and uniform. One that’s a bit paler is color is the golden, sweet ‘Dr. Wyche’s Yellow’, which develops lots of 1 pounds fruits all season long.
Lots of notable, new, colorful, extra-large slicing tomatoes have hit the market. One of the prettiest and newest on the market is ‘Janet’s Jacinthe Jewel’, a real beauty with 1 pound fruits that have deep orange flesh and gold and green stripes. The classic, ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’ is a popular old heirloom with tangy fruits that mature to bright green and can exceed 1 pound each. Try ‘Cherokee Chocolate’ for its exceptionally large, dark chocolate purple fruits.
There are several things you can do to ensure your slicing tomatoes produce their best all season long. Amend planting beds by digging and turning the soil deeply and adding rich Black Gold Garden Compost and a fitting tomato & vegetable fertilizer. Plant tomatoes around 4 feet apart and mulch with a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost. Young plants can be planted deep, but leaves should be gently removed from all stem parts that will be covered with soil. Fit indeterminate tomatoes with a sizable tomato cage right away to support vines and fruits as plants develop. Water daily on warm days in the absence of rain. Days to harvest vary, but plants usually begin to bear fruit 65 to 85 days after planting.
Choose at least one of these outstanding beefsteak tomatoes this season, for great fresh eating. Different colored slices look great on a plate and the prettier the fruits, the easier they are to share with friends and family.