PHOTO: Jessica Walliser
Few things make a better summer lunch than a BLT or caprese salad stocked with thick slices of juicy, homegrown tomatoes. While dozens of tomato varieties are perfect for fresh slicing and serving, my favorites are those with striped or mottled skin.
Not only are the following varieties of multicolored tomatoes flavorful, they’re also downright beautiful, both in the garden and on the plate. The color variation on the skin can be the result of a natural genetic mutation or purposeful plant breeding, but either way, the results are stunning. On top of their beauty, many striped tomatoes have a classic tomato flavor that’s sure to be a palate pleaser.
Here are six of my favorite striped and mottled tomatoes. I’ve grown many others, but these are my hands-down favorites.
The large, meaty fruits of this new variety are golden yellow with red stripes. Inside, the flesh is swirled with the same colors. For my family, it’s the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Copia plants need to be caged or staked as the heavy weight of the fruit can pull the branches down to the ground. There’s also a sister variety called Green Copia that gets a little larger and has apple-green fruits with red stripes. Inside, the flesh has golden yellow and green mottling.
2. Green Zebra
This distinctive tomato is probably the “zingiest” flavored variety I grow. The fruits are perfectly round and weigh about 3 to 5 ounces each. The skin of the ripe fruit is chartreuse green/yellow with darker-green stripes. I find the plants to be highly productive: Each year I pick dozens of tomatoes off of each plant. Green Zebra is the first striped tomato I ever grew.
3. Solar Flare
Each of these large, beefsteak tomatoes is a classic tomato red but with gold stripes. The flavor is very sweet, with a classic tomato punch. In my garden, it’s earlier than the other striped varieties.
4. Chocolate Stripes
These gorgeous tomatoes are burgundy red with dark green or orange stripes. In the sun, the strips almost appear to sparkle. Although they’re prone to splitting after periods of heavy rainfall, the 1-pound fruits are well-worth growing. The flavor of this tomato is absolutely fabulous.
5. Berkeley Tie-Dye Green
Probably the most beautiful striped tomatoes I grow, Berkeley Tie Dye Green is just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the out. The texture is thick and juicy, and the sweet-tart fruit has the perfect level of acidity. The skin is a combination of apple green, golden orange, and red. There’s a pink version of this tomato, too, called Berkeley Tie-Dye Pink. It’s another stunner, with dark, wine-colored skin that’s streaked with olive green.
6. Sunrise Bumblebee
Although this little guy isn’t a good addition to a BLT, it’s worth growing even if you only plan to eat them as fresh-picked snacks in the garden. A perky little cherry tomato, Sunrise Bumblebee has yellow skin with orangey-pink stripes. The plants are vigorous growers, and unlike some other sweet cherry tomatoes, the fruits of this variety seldom split.