Tomatoes: Need acidic tomato...

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Okay folks, no joke here (sorry). (I'm sure you're asking yourself "is Horseshoe serious?") (actually I'm Aquarius ;>))
Anyway, my young neighbor of 70 yrs of age up the road is always looking each yr for a "good ol' fashioned tomato with that acid taste". However, each yr he has no luck. How about putting your minds, memories, and taste buds to work and offer some suggestions if you please. Much obliged.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I think that I read somewhere that all tomatoes have about the same amount of acid.What differs is the amount of sugars and the soil conditions ,etc..

I would say that your neighbor fondly remembers a tomato that he ate years ago and we are now calling it by another name or it may be sadly lost.

Carolyn ,I think, touched on this in another thread somewhere,but I can't find it at the moment.It looks like you'll just have to keep planting them maters and hope one hits the spot.

Does this sound right?I'll stand corrected if someone else has any info.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)


You're remembering correctly. The USDA and private parties have testd the pH of a wide variety of OP's and hybrids and there is little to no difference in acid (pH) levels.

Many folks think pastel colored maters are low acid becasue they often taste so bland, but they have a high sugar content which masks the normal acid levels.

About 15 years ago there were severla low acid red varietis released and it caused a problem in terms of canning procedures. And that's becasue acid conditions are needed to inactivate the spores of Clostridium botulinum during the canning procedure. The Ball blue book used to list them but as far as I know, only the Harris variety Jet Star is still being sold; and it's a terrific tasting hybrid, as hybrids go, IMHO. Just be sure to add lemon juice or similar to all tomatoes when canning them.

Now that old fashoined taste many remember is still available in heirlooms. The taste comes not from acidity but from the particular organic compounds that make up what we call taste.

Man it's getting late and I have to stop posting, but if anyone would like me to list some of the avaialble heirloom varieties that I think have that "old fashioned" taste, I'd be glad some later time. LOL


Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

I happen to be a Master Gardener; we had a great speaker at last months meeting who spoke on tomatoes. Hannah Stevens is a MSU extension agent here in Macomb County in Michigan. She's a expert on tomatoes.

She stated that the hybridzers are breeding the plants to reduce the amount of acid. They will keep longer. It also changes the taste. For those of you who like the "old time Taste" stick to the older varities.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)


I have a really hard time believing that professional hybridizers are once again deliberately trying to lower the acid level in tomatoes. And that's becasue of the complete disaster that occurred when they did this the last time about 15 years ago and the resultant problems with canning and inactivation of Clostriduim botulinum spores.

But i certainly can call a few professional hybridizers I know and ask them if they are involved. In my experience almost all the hybridizers associated with Petoseed, Novartis, and the other major players, all know what the others are doing. LOL And I got to know several of them in doing past articles about tomatoes and also checking certain facts re my book on heirloom tomatoes.

I just don't want to believe they would do this again for there really is no reason to and it was such a disaster last time. Taste in tomatoes is due "mainly" to the myriad of organic compounds that are synthesized by each individual variety ,and not due to acidity levels. To be perfectly frank about it, not one gene has been isolated, as far as i know, which has been associated with taste. LOL Some hybridizers with major companies are now are using heirloom types to try and introduce some taste into hybrids but the results have not been entirely satisfactory because most of the selections have been too soft to be marketed.


Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Oh goody! I'm going to take you up on that offer, Carolyn. Please post some heirlooms with that good old fashioned taste. I'm going to plant them for sure! I'll order my seeds ASAP and plant them for a fall tomato crop. :)


Salem, NY(Zone 4b)


While taste is in the mouth of the beholder and taste is an individual perception, you might wish to consider the following:

Break O Day
Andrew Rahart Jumbo Red
German Red Strawberry

And start with the top three first. All three are older commercial type heirlooms. You may have to get the Break O Day from Chuck Wyatt.And Landreth is an older one that I think is only listed in SSE, from me, but I can send you some OLD seeds you can play with. LOL I have several from the late 1800's, thru the USDA, but they just haven't kept their genes intact down thru the years. Seeds for the bottom four are available thru Chuck and/or TGS, I'm pretty sure.


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Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Thanks, Carolyn! The good news is that I'm already growing Rutgers this year. I'm glad I picked a winner. Believe me, it was purely accidental. LOL Thank you for your kind offer. :)

Patty, maybe it means that each tomato variety has it's own special "blend" of organic compounds and that is what sets it apart from every other variety in taste??? That's my guess anyway. :)

Yup, I edited for spelling. Gee, I wish we had a spellcheck at DG. (Hint, hint) LOL


This message was edited Saturday, Apr 21st 10:50 PM

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Ohhhh...Patty...don't talk to me like that! know how I get!...! However,..
Actually Carolyn, Rutgers was the first that came to mind when I made that post (and at the same time almost pointed out my neighbor is very "traditional"..i.e. heavy on the chemical end...) I wonder, and hopefully NOT opening a can of worms about the organic vs chem farming methods, whether the type of soil ,and organisms within, determine the taste of the fruit. (I must admit, several customers at the mkt tell me my tomatoes have "a better taste" than "so-and-so's" who is growing the same variety...I'm "organic", they are not.) This "myriad of organic compounds"...(as Patty was also confused about) ...(LORD! can't tell ya how nice it is to see another confused person!)...could they be determined by the condition of the soil? and what is providing food for the plant from the soil? and how much or how little water the plant received during a particular stage of growth? I'm befuddled, for sure! LOL Tell me how to please this ol' neighbor of mine!

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

It's late and I'm tired. but I'll try. LOL

The basic taste of any tomato variety is determned by the genes it has in it's chromosomes. Those genes direct the synthesis of proteins which ultimately result in the synthesis or lots of different organic compounds. And it's those organic compounds that form the basic taste of a tomato variety.

There was an article about taste components in OG a number of years ago where this was also discussed.

Of course there are many things that can alter the expression of these molecules. If little sun, then reduced photosynthesis, thus less energy made thus less formation of these compounds. So if the sun doesn't shine enuf you get don't get maximim taste.

Many folks don't water tomatoes when they are near ripeness in order to concentrate these molecules in the fruits as well as concentrate the sugar content. Where I live the rain falls from the sky, so little control is possible.

Possible effects from soil minerals, etc? NO way to know.
But it is known that overuse of fertilizers, especially nitrogen in the ammnoium form, can alter the taste in a negative manner.

Possible effects from organic vs chemical fertilizers? Probably not because the NPK in organic fertilizers are just bound to organic molecules and are just released slower than when NPK is not bound to organic materials. But the structure of N and P and K is the same wherever it's found.

How am I doing for having my eyes almost shut? LOL


Bakersfield, CA

The search for an acid tomato?

When I had a special guest to one of my tomato breeding plots back in 1990, the subject of a really old-fashioned tomato was brought up. My guest was none other than Rosalind of "The Complete Book Of Edible Landscape" :- by Rosalind Creasy.

I offered her a sample of tomatoes to taste as we went through the plot. When she wanted the most red tomato of all, I went to my Jiarg tomato, and it was the eye-opener she was looking for. When she asked if I had a tomato that had that old flavor of your youth, the one that had a tangy acid bite, I took her to my Sour Boy line. It was exactly what she was seeking. She detected some neat sensations in other lines, but I digress.

Truly acid tomatoes have a definite bite, a tanginess that lingers with a mouth clensing that you feel on your palate. The high acid tomatoes are the red wines of tomatoes. Green Zebra has a bite too, but is masked with a tad more sugar than Sour Boy. Yes, Sour Boy is more acid than Rutgers, Druzba, Andrew Raharts, and others.

Some acid tomatoes are detected only after the first sensations are manifested. I have found that most people detect the sweetness of a tomato slightly before they detect the acidity. That is why we say "sweet and sour" and tomatoes are much the same. A high sugar content in a slightly lower acid tomato is simply sweet as in Green Grape. Some tomatoes have a marvelous balance of sweetness and sour. Others yet have little sugar and some acidity, but I have never found a tomato as acid as Sour Boy.

You can feel sweet tomatoes on your fingers after picking and the stickiness, likewise, you can "feel" acidity on your fingers, lips, palate and even stomach, with the high acid lines. The feel is not terribly unlike lemon juice.

How did I find this acidity? First, I talked with Dr. Victor Lambeth on his study of citric acid equivalant tomatoes to sugar. In his study, the most acid tomato or the highest acid to sugar ratio was a PI number from Turkey. When I requested seed stock from Ames, Iowa, I was dismayed to find a very segregating seed stock family. I was overjoyed when I found a seedling that was more acid to my lips and tongue than the others. In my breeding with it, I enhanced the acid content and stabilized the selection.

BTW, Buigh was my least acid tomato development from the same survey of Dr. Lambeth.

Generations of tomato lines have come and gone since my first work on acid tomatoes and I have harnessed this trait along with other independent taste components to further the perfection of flavor sensation. One of my lines last year was often selected the best ever, and I will submit it again at the TomatoFest in Carmel. It will be grown on certified organic fields to boot.

Tom of Bakersfield

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)


I'll also comment on this post when I have time. Like your other one here at DG this morning, my response is not simple and will take more time than I have available right now.


Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Sour Boy sounds wonderful, Tom! It's got my taste buds doing back flips. LOL I'm going to have to get some of those seeds! :)


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Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

This has been an exceptionally great thread! Many thanks...I believe it sounds like what I was looking for!
Ya'll are the best! (Hope those Sour Boy seeds are available somewhere!)

Morganton, NC

Well Horseshoe, it looks like you got plenty of responses to your question about acidic 'love apples'. I was just thinking how ironic it is that tomatoes have fallen into the vegetable category when actually they are a fruit. Was wondering if this is why people the age of my father seem to crave the taste of tomatoes from the good ole days since oranges, lemons, etc. contain citric acid. Like a psyche thing. (it was my Mom who told me many years ago that tomatoes are actually a fruit and since then I've seen it defined as such. (no, I'm not on drugs, lol) The bs side of my brain kicked in so please disregard my uncanny ideas and go about your day without letting me cause you to pace back and forth, wondering, "what in the he-- is she talking about?" I don't know myself, so see, we agree on something. Please have a good day. Talk to you later. (if I haven't scared you away) lol Cindy the mountain hooger

P.S. I want to thank you (and all who responded) for trying to recapture, for my father, the kind of tomato he has been craving. You all have been very generous with your knowledge and it is apprecitated. (it was my father that Horseshoe was referring to at the beginning of this thread)

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Really, Cindy? Shucks, I didn't do a thing to help but you're welcome anyway. :)

Is your dad going to plant any one of the varities mentioned above? I am. I'm going really heavy on the Rutgers in my garden. The great thing about Rutgers is that the plants are readily available in most garden centers.


Morganton, NC

Hi Pete, how are you today? I'm not sure what Daddy has decided to do. Since Horseshoe is his neighbor and expert on growing things around there, he will probably pass along the information to him. The next time I talk to Daddy I'll ask him if Horseshoe gave him the results of his request. :)
Thanx and have a great day. Cindy

P.S. How are things down in Georgia, haven't been down that way in a while? Bet its very hot down there right now.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Hi Cindy! Yup, it's warming up down here but at the moment it's pretty nice outside and there's a nice breeze which is helping to keep the bugs away thank goodness. We're in the middle of deer fly season right now. They usually aren't as active when the wind is blowing. Well darn! My lunch break is over and it's time to go back outside and pull some more weeds. LOL


Morganton, NC

ok would the real Pete2 please stand UP? LOL LOL I just got a little 'cornfuzed'when I saw the name Terri. But that's ok, I cornfuze very easily these days. Yes, I bet it IS hot down there. It is here and we're a little farther north. I used to go to GA a lot to get on my truck down at Tunnel Hill. Do you know where that is?
Think I'm gonna get me some of those rutgers too and try my luck at growing something. I wasn't born with a green thumb, so this ought to be good. talk to you later... mh

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Oh dear. You mean Horseshoe didn't tell you I was a female? Yup, I am. My maiden name was 'Peterson' and everyone has always called me 'Pete'. LOL

Tunnel Hill? Hmmmmmmmmm. No, I'm not familar with it. I'm right on the coast by Savannah. Where is Tunnel Hill?

Morganton, NC

Hi Terri! (I have a cat named Petey by the way) Tunnel Hill is about 20 miles south of Chattanooga,TN on 75. Just over the TN line I guess. I drove for US Xpress for a few months and would love to go back to driving if I could find me a good partner to team up with. Preferably another lady, ha! (no, I'm not "funny" but I'm married and it would make hubby a lot more comfortable, lol.) I went thru Savannah going to Disney World year before last. Had some pickups there too when I drove. Beautiful scenery there. Gotta go for now. Talk to you later. Cindy

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

A cat named Petey? That's a cute name for a cat. :)

Did your Dad get his tomatoes planted? :)


Morganton, NC

Hi Terri, LOL I named my cat after Pete Rose, because he slid on the kitchen floor one day. It was soooo cute, I remembered them laughing at Pete Rose for sliding onto a base once, so hence the name. I'm gonna make him a little baseball cap with the Reds on it one day. He will really be cute then. I'll try to send you a pic of him one day. He is such a funny cat, he does all kinds of things, among them is drinking water from the bathroom tap, I have a pic of him doing this. Now if I could just teach him to use the toilet and flush, ahhhhh, LOL. My dad has planted some maters but I'm not sure which he chose. He said they are not getting enough rain and he's having to water his whole garden himself. He said his okra is not doing very well either. By the way, I have 3 little kittens I'm trying to find homes for, they are going on 4 weeks old. If anyone sees this and lives close to Morganton, NC I could hook you up if you are interested. They will be smart, like Petey, and have beautiful colors.(they have the same mom and dad that petey does) 1)beige and white 2)gray and white 3)blackish gray and white. I have 1 male and 2 females. Please let me know, ok? Terri, you need a good cat to rid your home of those pesky mice don't you? LOL kidding. Write back soon. :)

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Oh Cindy! You're soooooooooo funny! I got such a chuckle reading Petey's story. He sounds adorable! My DH would kill me if I brought home another pet. We've already got 2 _big_ dogs (Max and Nyah), 1 cat (Paco), and 1 guinea pig (Sparky). I do _love_ cats though! Unfortunately, my DH is allergic to all of our pets but he does love them all and puts up with his allergies and asthma that is certainly aggravated by all of them. :)


Morganton, NC

Hi Terri! LOL I have 4 adult cats(including Petey) and 3 newbies. They were born on my Dad's birthday, April 25. I have 2 dogs, Happy and Rowdy. They are black labs. And my babies. I started out with one dog and a girl who got one from the same litter couldn't keep hers so I have him now-that was Rowdy. I wanted a playmate for Happy anyway, so it worked out great. (Happy is a male too-he lives up to his name quite well-and Rowdy???? she couldn't have named him anything more suitable). They are 6+ months old. I really really enjoy talking to you. Would love to meet you and your DH someday. I'm thinking of going back to driving pretty soon. I'm 44 years old, have 2 sons, Paul 22, Daniel, 20. My dad lives in Hillsborough, NC next to Horseshoe. My Mom died in 1997 from lung cancer. I have 2 siters and 1 brother. (no grandchildren yet!!! LOL, they're still single) gotta go now. Hope to hear from you again soon. Have a good day! Cindy

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

Carolyn, I have Rutgers and this is my first time planting, I planted at the beginning of May, 3 of the 4 plants are very hardy, yet none are ready to eat, they're still green, is this normal? Denise

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

It's taking everyone's tomatoes longer this year to ripen,and from your town,I think you're near I right?

As long as everything is looking normal,looks like you'll have to wait a bit more.

This year has been strange for sure.I'm way south of you,but gardens here are producing late also.

Our weather patterns have changed and played with what we consider normal.Maybe there will be a late frost.

By the way,welcome to DG!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Glad this thread came back up. I'd completely forgotten about those Sour Boy tomatoes. Will have to find a source for them for next yr.

Mel, and Tomden, weather here this yr has been so different also. Things are ripening later, for the most part anyway. (Other things are just drowning!) Hang in there, you'll get a crop!

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

melody and Horseshoe, Thanks, I was really starting to wonder although I have some neighbors unfortunately they do not speak english and I've seen them picking theirs and they're red already. I noticed that they have a sheet of plywood aroud their garden, was wondering if it's like the paper bag theory to ripen faster? I have pulled one tomatoe to see if by putting in the window sill it gets ripe from the sun since there's so much foilage around the tomatoes themselves. Well as they say patience is a virtue. Thanks Again, Denise

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Different varieties of tomatoes ripen at different times.Some are very early at about 60 days...some are late at over 100.

Chances are,you have something that falls in the middle.

Start counting from the time tomato plants are set in the ground,and you should be pretty close. They are taking longer this year that usual though.

If your neighbors planted an earlier variety,that would explain their harvest.I'm guessing the plywood is for blocking wind and conserving heat.Might be for keeping out the rabbits too.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Well, we had the first tomato out of the garden yesterday.... a Brandywine. I know many of y'all don't like it because it has a tendency to get cracks, and therefore not good at all as a commercial tomato. However foir the acid taste we love, it cannot be beat. I grow some every year, and even though I try new ones, nothing yet has equalled the Brandywine, to my taste.

I have a couple other acidic heirloom tomatoes this year but none have ripened. The tags got mixed up when the seedling tray was knocked over by a cat, so I'll not know what I have even when they ripen.

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

darius, My cat knocked over a tray I had and I threw all of it away, wish I would have known I could have salvaged. The ones I planted that were already started are rutgers although that is what I picked to start from seed also. I'm always amazed at all there is to learn.

St. Petersburg, FL(Zone 10b)

Greetings all,

I sure we all have our favorite places to purchase our tomatoe seeds from. If not, allow me to suggest Totally Tomatoes.

Their catalog is outstanding! A large sections of Heirlooms, and every year it seems they find a few new Heirlooms to add.

Totally Tomatoes:


Nokesville, VA(Zone 7a)

I have also been using Totally Tomatoes for a number of years and have always had good success with their seed.I have seen some negative feedback from someone and was very suprised.I have never experenced any problems.

Kerhonkson, NY(Zone 5a)

Love those Brandywines ... grow them from seed ... my favorite ...

(Zone 5a)

Bump! Good thread!!

I still use Totally Tomatoes and have no problem with them.

I have a cat named Petey.

I also like Rutgers for tart and canning. I grew Druzba quite a few years ago and cannot remember the taste.

The years we have much more rain than usual makes the worst tomatoes.

This year we used cages attached to stakes and I had the best, cleanest tomatoes. I'll always stake from now on.

Thumbnail by billyporter
Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

So shoe did you ever find seeds for Sour Boy?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy, Ernie..

Wow! This thread dates back to 2001! Have mercy!

Nope, never found seeds of Sour Boy but have become happy with other varieties that offer the flavor I was looking for.


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