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I’ve recently grown quite fond of having all kinds of tomatoes in my garden and experimenting with the different tastes and uses. Heirloom varieties are my newest passion project, and when I came across Black Krim tomatoes, I knew it was a must-have. I hope this Black Krim tomato guide will inspire you to plant some in your garden!
Tomatoes are finicky plants, and like all other fruits and vegetables, you need to ensure you meet the best care requirements to reap a successful harvest. But if you aren’t careful, fungal, bacterial, or viral diseases or even a pest or two can easily make the tomato plant their new home and rob you of enjoying a few tomato slices on your BLT.
With this complete Black Krim tomato guide, you’ll have as much fun sowing the seeds and caring for the tomato plant as you do eating your harvest of delicious Black Krim tomatoes.
My Bottom Line Up Front
If you are in a hurry, here’s what you need to know about Black Krim tomatoes:
- An heirloom, indeterminate, frost-tender medium-large black/purple tomato variety originating from Crimea
- The outer skin is a dark maroon that turns black or a blackish-purple when the fruits are exposed to the sun and hot temperatures
- Taste acidic, with hints of smoke, salt, and sweetness
- Can be eaten fresh, used in stews, soups, and sauces, frozen, canned, juiced, and dried
- Require the same care as other tomato plants: bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, water from the bottom only until the soil is moist, and nourish with a slow-releasing 5-10-5 fertilizer when the fruits are one inch in diameter and when harvesting starts
What Is a Black Krim Tomato?
A Black Krim tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum var. Black Krim), also called the Black Crimea tomato (Noire de Crimee), is an heirloom tomato. Black Krim tomatoes have deep purple-reddish skin, and in hot conditions, the tomatoes’ skin turns a dark blackish purple.
It is also a beef or beefsteak tomato, and these tomatoes are generally large tomato varieties, with some weighing up to 15.8 ounces (450 grams) and mature plants reaching a height of 6 feet or more. Beefsteak tomatoes are meaty and juicy with firm flesh. They are typically used on sandwiches, salads, and as a base for sauces and dips.
The origins of Black Krim tomatoes can be traced back to the Isle of Krim, Crimea, an autonomous republic in southern Ukraine. Historians believe soldiers gathered these tomato seeds at the end of the Crimean War in 1856. These soldiers and their families saved the seeds and passed them down from one generation to the next. In 1990, the Swede Lars Olov Rosenstrom introduced Black Krim tomatoes to the Seed Savers Exchange. These tomatoes were the first black tomato variety to be made available in the USA.
What Do Black Krim Tomatoes Taste Like?
Black Krim tomatoes taste sweet but with an intense acidic taste. As such, these tomatoes taste salty and tart. You also get hints of a smokey flavor, making the taste of Black Krim tomatoes quite complex. Similar black/purple tomatoes that have an acidic taste include:
- Cherokee purple tomatoes
- Black cherry tomatoes
- Purple calabash tomatoes
How to Identify a Black Krim Tomato
Some tomato varieties can look very similar and thus make it troublesome to distinguish one tomato cultivar from another. Identifying a Black Krim tomato means knowing what the outside and inside of the tomato look like.
Black Krim tomato plants bear medium to large-sized tomatoes weighing 8-12 ounces (227-340 grams). The tomatoes have a flattened globe shape and an outer skin that’s dark maroon or purplish-red. A Black Krim tomato has green shoulders, the area around the fruit’s stem. As Black Krim tomatoes get exposed to more sun, the dark maroon skin turns a purplish-black; it’s where the tomatoes get their name. The shoulders will turn greenish-brown.
The flesh of a Black Krim tomato is reddish-green, and the fruit contains a low to a moderate number of seeds. A mature Black Krim tomato plant can reach a minimum of 6 feet in height, and as such, these plants need to be caged or staked to support the large, heavy fruit yield.
Where to Buy Black Krim Tomatoes?
This heirloom variety isn’t widely available. However, there are various places where you can buy Black Krim tomato plants or Black Krim tomato seeds.
|Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co||Website||
|Seed Savers Exchange||Website||
|Johnny’s Selected Seeds||Website||
|Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds||Website||
Some seeds aren’t currently in stock; they are primarily available in spring. Alternatively, the websites have a “notify me” option, and you’ll get an email once the stock has arrived.
How to Use Black Krim Tomatoes
As a beefsteak tomato, there are various uses for Black Krim tomatoes. After all, they are delish.
One of the best ways to enjoy these tomatoes is fresh. I like to cut mine up into little pieces and enjoy it with cucumber, cottage cheese, or hummus for a healthy snack. I also love Black Krim tomatoes in any garden salad, and I like to pair it with a sweeter salad dressing to balance the acidity and saltiness.
When my family comes over, I like to toast some bread, add a slice or two of a Black Krim tomato, and fresh mozzarella, sprinkle some basil, and drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Or simply make a vegetarian BLT for everyone.
Make Juices or Cocktails
I’m not a fan of a Bloody Mary, but I know my partner says that he loves using Black Krim tomatoes to make his favorite tomato cocktail. Other cocktails you can use these tomatoes in our Micheladas or Ceasars.
The black tomato variety can also be used in juices – just in tomato juice or with other veggies and fruits. I like juicing:
- Watermelon and Black Krim tomatoes
- Black Krim tomatoes, carrots, and cucumber
- Apples, ginger, turmeric, and Black Krim tomatoes
With their acidity, Black Krim tomatoes make an excellent addition to sauces, stews, soups, and casseroles. You can substitute the Black Krim tomato variety in any recipe that calls for tomatoes. I’d recommend tasting and adjusting the dish to prevent it from being overly acidic.
I also like making a chili Black Krim tomato marmalade that tastes like the best since sliced bread on a bagel, toast, or bread roll.
Buying sun-dried tomatoes isn’t easy – it’s not an ingredient that every grocery store or market stocks, and sometimes, it’s pretty pricey too. So I prefer to make my own, and sun-dried Black Krim tomatoes add a yummy touch to a spinach mac and cheese.
I’m not a big fan of freezing tomatoes because they are so mushy when they thaw. But I’ve found that mushy tomatoes work well for cooked meals where the texture of the tomatoes isn’t a priority. Here are some tips for freezing tomatoes with and without outer skin and stewed tomatoes.
It’s really easy to can tomatoes, and Black Krim tomatoes are no different. I use this tomato canning recipe, meaning I have tomatoes all year long for my cooking needs.
How to Grow Black Krim Tomatoes Guide
Before enjoying your harvest of Black Krim tomatoes, you must successfully grow these beauties. I’ve got complete care and a growing guide for you. First up, I’ve compiled a cheat sheet of sorts. I keep this in my plant journal, so I don’t confuse the care requirements for one plant with another. Growing and taking care of Black Krim tomatoes is similar to what you’d do for all tomato plants. But let’s dive into the details.
Cheat Sheet for Caring for Black Krim Tomatoes
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zone||Zones 10-11 (for the best results)
Zones 6-9 (can affect crop yield and quality)
|Start||Seedlings or seeds|
|Seed life||4 years|
|Germination||5-7 days at 65-90℉|
|Plant spacing||12-36 inches apart|
|Days to harvest||70-90 days|
|Light||Full sun, sheltered|
|Water||Water well, and water again when the top ½ inch of soil is dry|
|Fertilizer||½ cup of 5-10-5 fertilizer into the top inch of the soil around the plant
Fertilize when the fruits are about one inch in diameter and again before harvesting
|Best companion plants||Basil
Black Krim Tomato Planting Zone Requirements
It’s best to plant Black Krim tomatoes in USDA plant hardiness zones 10-11, which are frost-free climates. However, tomato plants adapt well to various other planting zones and can be grown in zones 6-9. However, cooler temperatures may affect the yield and size of the tomatoes.
These tomatoes are frost-tender. If you have a long growing season, you can plant the Black Krim tomato seeds outdoors about 2-4 weeks after the last frost. Alternatively, start the seedlings indoors about 1.5-2 months before the last frost.
Black Krim Tomato Planting and Transplanting Requirements
Black Krim tomatoes are an intermediate type of tomato (also called a vining tomato), meaning that the tomato plant continues to grow throughout its growing season. These plants also produce fruit throughout the growing season, so you’ll have a steady supply of tomatoes instead of just one large harvest.
When you are ready to start planting your Black Krim tomatoes, gather the necessary supplies:
- Biodegradable pots or seed-starting trays
- Seed starting potting mix
- Plastic or Saran wrap
- Seed-heating mat
- Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol
- Spray bottle
About 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost, fill the biodegradable pots or seed-starting trays with a seed-starting mix up to the ½ -¾ mark. Add water to a spray bottle, and mist the soil until it’s moist.
Place 2-3 Black Krim tomato seeds about ½-¼ of an inch into each pot, and cover the seeds with more potting mix. Spray the soil until it’s moist. Cover the pots or trays with Saran wrap, and place the pots or trays on the seed-heating mat.
Keep the temperature around the 65-90℉ mark; the warmer, the better since warmth promotes faster germination. The seeds should germinate in 5-7 days. Remove the Saran wrap and place the pots or trays in a sunny spot. Water the seeds regularly, but ensure to not overwater them. The soil should be kept moist. Sterilize the scissors with rubbing alcohol and cut any excess seedlings from each pot. Leave only one seedling in a pot.
It’s time to transplant the Black Krim tomato seedlings outside when the night temperatures don’t drop below 50℉. There’s no need to rush transplanting the seedlings since cold air temperatures and cold soil stresses the seedlings.
Stressed plants are prone to catfacing, meaning the tomato plants produce deformed fruit. I recommend waiting 1-2 weeks after the last frost and then transplanting the Black Krim tomato seedlings.
Choose the best seedlings to transplant. The plants should be dark green, sturdy, and short. Too mature plants that are tall, yellowish, or have started to flower often don’t grow further after transplanting. Before transplanting, prepare the soil that’s in a sunny location. Work 2-4 inches of well-decomposed manure and compost into the soil to a depth of 24-36 inches.
You can also choose to transplant your Black Krim tomatoes into raised beds. In that case, fill these with equal parts peat moss, compost, perlite, and coarse sand. It’s time to harden off your Black Krim tomato seedlings. Reduce watering them and place them outside in your garden for an hour a day.
It should be a sheltered but sunny spot. Repeat this every day for a week, but let your seedlings stay outside for an hour longer each day.
Black Krim tomatoes should be planted 24-36 inches apart to ensure enough airflow and make harvesting easier. Plant the Black Krim tomato deep into the soil; about ⅔ of the stem goes into the ground, and only the top 4-6 leaves should be visible.
Stake or cage the tomato plants since Black Krim tomatoes grow 6 feet or higher. You’ll also need to support these plants’ medium to large fruit, and deep planting encourages a strong root system. I like to add black plastic mulch to keep my Black Krim tomatoes warm early in their growing season. When the outside temperatures reach 85℉, I know it’s time to remove the covers to ensure the tomato plants don’t overheat.
Black Krim Tomato Pollinating Requirements
You are in luck. Tomato plants are self-pollinating, so you don’t need more plants to yield a crop. Pollinators like birds, bees, butterflies, and the wind will also help pollinate your Black Krim tomatoes.
The problem with pollination is when you grow more than one variety of tomato plants near each other. This problem has a name: cross-pollination (or cross-fertilization). It’s when the pollen from one plant variety is transferred to the sex organs or stigma of a different variety plant, producing a new hybrid crop with characteristics of both parent plants.
If you want to keep your Black Krim heirloom tomatoes “pure,” you want to avoid cross-pollination. There are various methods to stop or prevent cross-pollination. Put up a physical barrier to ensure no foreign pollen is introduced to the Black Krim tomatoes.
Or you can also bag the tomato plants’ blossoms before they open. Use tulle, nylon stocking, bridal favor bags, or floating row covers, and remove the cover after pollination so the plant can grow unrestricted.
Isolation screening cages are better to ensure your tomato variety remains 100% pure. Alternatively, if you have the land resources, plant one tomato variety a quarter mile or more away from another variety, and ensure pollen-producing plants are grown in between to divert insects away from the tomatoes.
Black Krim Tomato Light Requirements
Tomatoes love the sun, but these plants must be sheltered from full sun exposure. Ensure your Black Krim tomatoes get 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sun every day.
Black Krim Tomato Soil Requirements
Like other tomato varieties, Black Krim tomatoes prefer to grow in well-draining, fertile soil. For the best crop yield, plant Black Krims in loam and fertile clay soil; soil that’s airier and warms quicker produces an earlier harvest. The best pH for the soil is 6-6.8, so Black Krim tomatoes prefer slightly acidic soil.
Black Krim Tomato Water Requirements
Underwatering your Black Krim tomato plants results in dry soil, which can cause the plant to die or the fruits to split and crack. Various pests and diseases can then easily set up shop in the tomato crop, ruining your harvest.
Black Krim tomatoes need to be regularly watered, but only so that the soil is moist. When the soil is kept evenly moist, it helps prevent blossom end rot. If you aren’t sure if it’s time to water, stick your index finger into the ground close to the plant crown. If the first 2-4 inches (up to your second knuckle) of soil is dry, it’s time to water the plant. It’s better to thoroughly water the tomato plant, encouraging deep root growth, than water a little bit every day.
You’ll also want to water from the bottom, ensuring the foliage remains dry. Watering from the top results in wet leaves and stems, making it easier for mold spores to grow. Plus, it creates a humid environment that many pests and fungi love.
Black Krim Tomato Fertilizer Requirements
Tomatoes are heavy feeders that need specific nutrients to produce the best crop. The best fertilizer for Black Krim tomatoes is an organic, slow-releasing blend with high potassium and phosphorus and moderate nitrogen content.
I like to side-dress my Black Krim tomato plants. I usually work ½ cup of 5-10-5 fertilizer (with a 5% total nitrogen, 10% total phosphorus pentoxide, and 5% total potassium oxide) into the top inch of the soil around the plant. I fertilized twice. Once when the tomato fruits are one inch in diameter and once more when I start to harvest.
Black Krim Tomato Pruning or Pinching Requirements
Pruning and pinching help your Black Krim tomatoes yield the best crop. Pruning indeterminate tomato varieties has a few benefits. Pruning Black Krim tomatoes helps:
- Ensure the vining tomato plant doesn’t grow wild
- Keep the plant healthy
- The plant put more energy into producing fruit than growing leaves
- Improve the airflow, resulting in fewer pests and disease
- Improve the plant’s access to sunlight
- The fruit to ripen earlier
- Keep disease at bay when you prune diseased leaves and stems
To prune your Black Krim tomatoes:
- Break off the suckers (the stems that grow where the main stem meets the leaf stem) when they are 2-4 inches long, ensuring there are only 1-2 stems
- If the sucker is thick, it’s recommended to clip it off with garden shears, so you don’t damage the plant
- When the Black Krim tomato plant is 2-3 feet tall, prune the bottom leaves to prevent soil pathogens from getting onto the leaves and infecting your plant
- Prune the top ends of the tomato plant near the end of the growing season, so energy goes into ripening the fruit that’s already there
Pinch off the plant’s flowers or prune small green tomatoes to get your Black Krim plant growing bigger fruit that ripens sooner. Prune any disease-ridden leaves and stems as soon as possible. This helps ensure the disease doesn’t spread or cause more damage.
Black Krim Tomato Harvesting Requirements
Since the Black Krim tomato is an indeterminate tomato variety, you’ll have ripe fruit to harvest from mid to late in the growing season. The fruits will start to ripen in August. From early August, you’ll want to continuously check on your tomatoes – ripe tomatoes will easily release from their stems.
I usually harvest about 30 Black Krim tomatoes per plant over 4 weeks, and I make sure to go check for ripe fruit every few days. You should be able to still harvest your Black Krim tomato crop into September, provided it doesn’t get too cold, too suddenly, or temperatures drop below 60℉.
Saving the Black Krim Tomato Seeds
When you’ve bought Black Krim tomato seeds to grow your first tomato plants, you don’t need to keep on buying seeds or seedlings. Instead, you can save the seeds and use them the following year when it’s time to plant. Luckily, it isn’t challenging to save tomato seeds. The seeds are encased in a gelatinous covering, keeping the seeds from germinating while inside the tomato fruit.
In nature, ripe fruit falls to the ground and eventually rots away. This is a natural fermentation process that destroys the gelatinous sack. Replicating the fermentation process when you want to save Black Krim tomato seeds removes the gelatinous seed cover and kills any seed-borne diseases.
To save your Black Krim tomato seeds:
- Cut the tomato fruit across the middle.
- Squeeze the tomato, so the seeds fall into a container.
- Label the container with the tomato variety if you grow more than one.
- Let the seeds in the container ferment for 3 days. Don’t be surprised that the container’s contents will grow mold and smell like something died.
- When mold covers the top of the container, add water. Stir the water and the tomato contents.
- The hollow seeds will float on top while the “good” seeds sink to the bottom.
- Gently tip the container over, removing the “bad” seeds.
- Add more water, and repeat the process until you are left with only the “good” seeds.
- Place the seeds on a glass plate so they can thoroughly dry. This typically takes about 12 days.
- Once the seeds are dry, put them in an envelope (that’s labeled with the variety), and store the seeds for 4+ years.
Common Black Krim Tomato Problems and Solutions
If you aren’t careful and regularly check on your Black Krim tomatoes, various pests and diseases can cause a lot of damage. However, Black Krims are semi-disease resistant, but these plants are susceptible to late blight and verticillium wilt. Various pests can affect your tomato plants, and environmental factors can cause issues.
I prefer knowing what pests and diseases my Black Krim tomato plants are susceptible to, what the problems look like, what the symptoms are, and how I can get rid of them. Armed with knowledge, I can act faster when something’s wrong. Here are common problems and solutions in case you need to troubleshoot when something happens to your Black Krim tomatoes:
|Overwatering or underwatering||
We also have guides on white spots on your tomato plant and curling tomato leaves. And here are common pests that affect the solanaceous family of crops.
Answer: Black Krim tomatoes and purple Cherokee tomatoes share various similarities and differences. Black Krim tomatoes have a flattened globe shape, while purple Cherokee tomatoes are round.
Black Krims are also generally smaller and have a more balanced taste, while purple Cherokee tomatoes are larger and are more acidic.
Both tomato varieties are heirloom, beefsteak, and indeterminate tomatoes with deep, dark red skins that grow darker in full sun.
Answer: Brandywine is considered to be one of the sweetest heirloom tomatoes. These tomatoes have a good balance between sweetness and acidity, but they taste sweeter than other tomatoes. Caspian pink and Prudens purple have similar flavor profiles to Brandywine tomatoes, while mortgage lifter is mildly sweet. Purple Cherokee tomatoes have an initial acidic, smoky flavor, followed by a semi-sweet aftertaste.
Answer: Black Krim tomatoes are one of the best black or purple tomatoes because they have a juicy, meaty flesh, excellent flavor with balanced acidic and sweet notes and a smoky saltiness, and can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen, from being eaten fresh and cooked to canned, frozen, and dried.
My Final Thoughts on Black Krim Tomatoes
I think Black Krim tomatoes are one of my favorite tomato varieties to grow, care for, and harvest. And let’s not forget to mention using them in the kitchen. I made sure to properly store my Black Krim tomato fruits by freezing, drying, and canning them, so I have quite a supply throughout the year.
Remember to regularly check on your Black Krim tomatoes once you’ve planted them. Inspect the leaves, stems, and fruit for any signs of mold, fungi, or pests, and treat any problems as soon as you see an issue.
I find that prevention is always better – so keep tomato leaves off the ground, water the plants from the bottom, prune so the plants don’t grow bushy, and water carefully. Ready to learn about other amazing tomato varieties? Check out our guides on Brandywine tomatoes, lemon boy tomatoes, and beef master tomatoes.