Choose one of these tomatoes for salads, pizzas ― or just on their own

Sunset  – May 4, 2005

‘Paul Robeson’ stands out among several great black tomatoes. Most appear tinged with black, brown, or purple, skin and flesh included. They tend to be richly flavored, sometimes with hints of spice or red wine, and they vary widely in size. ‘Paul Robeson’ weighs about 10 to 12 ounces. For an outstandingly rich black variety, try ‘Cherokee Purple’, whose fruit often grows to 10 ounces or more. ‘Black Prince’, from Siberia, is on the small end of the scale for black tomatoes; it’s flavorful and juicy, and can be sweet when it gets enough summer heat.

Grow ‘Earl of Edgecombe’ for its firm and meaty texture, superb flavor, and gold-orange skin and flesh. It is also remarkably disease-free. ‘Flammé’, a French heirloom, is only half the diameter of ‘Earl of Edgecombe’ but has a deeper, persimmon orange skin and nicely balanced sweetness.

Among the classic reds, ‘Dona’ is a medium-size French hybrid that was bred for the fresh market, where flavor is at a premium; plants produce liberally. ‘Costoluto Genovese’ and ‘Charlie Chaplin’ have fluted sides that make them tough to peel but great for stuffing or slicing. Of the two, the heat-loving ‘Costoluto Genovese’ has the most fluting and is probably better for eating, with a meaty, full-flavored, slightly tart interior. ‘Stupice’, a Czech variety that’s modest in size and cold-tolerant, does particularly well along the coast and in other mild-summer climates.

‘Green Zebra’ is an heirloom open-pollinated variety that comes true from seed. Its golden yellow base is covered with green stripes, and flavor is on the tart side, too green for some. ‘Tigerella’ (also called ‘Mr. Stripey’) has met with better reviews for flavor. It’s also on the small side, with yellowish stripes over a red base.

There are also a couple of great yellows worth noting: the huge (up to 2-pound) ‘Pineapple’ (yellow with peach blush) and ‘Nebraska Wedding’. Both varieties placed highly in tastings.