The Black Krim Tomato: Gourmet European Heirloom Tomatoes

Looking for a complex, dark fresh tomato perfect for your next gourmet summer meal? Try out the fabulous Black Krim tomato!

The Black Krim tomato is a large, dark red-purple heirloom tomato cultivar with a flattened shape and a tart, complex flavor. This tomato-lover’s favorite is prized for its depth of flavor and smoky aroma. Black Krim tomatoes grow on large plants with long, indeterminate vines. These gourmet fruits are not commonly available in grocery stores, and are grown mainly by specialty market growers and home gardeners. Black Krim tomatoes are typically named as one of the most delicious types of gourmet heirloom tomatoes.

Read on to learn all about Black Krim tomatoes!

Black krim tomato plants
The black krim tomato: gourmet european heirloom tomatoes

The Black Krim Tomato

Black Krim is an old heirloom tomato variety originating the town of Krymsk in Eastern Europe (reference), a location known for its excellence in plant breeding. Due to their origins near the Black Sea, Black Krim plants are somewhat cold-tolerant (although they will be killed by frost like other types of tomatoes). Black Krim tomato plants can also sometimes produce more reliably than Brandywine heirloom tomato plants.

Black Krim tomatoes ripen mid-season to late-season, often in August (depending on conditions). These large tomatoes have a classic flat/oblate shape. The peel is a dark crimson-red with some underlying green showing through (particularly around the stem). The color of Black Krim is classified as a purple tomato (along with Cherokee Purple, Purple Calabash, and Black Cherry). A single Black Krim tomato typically weights about a half pound (8 oz), but can grow up to about a pound in good growing conditions.

“Originally from the town of Krymysk near the Black Sea, Black Krim Organic tomato seeds grow plants that are exceptionally hardy. Naturally disease resistant, the plants adapt well to adverse conditions in a wide range of climates.”

Black Krim Tomatoes, West Coast Seeds
Black krim tomatoes
The black krim tomato: gourmet european heirloom tomatoes

What Do Black Krim Tomatoes Taste Like?

Black Krim tomatoes are known for their intense, acidic taste. These tomatoes are quite tart, yet complex in their flavor. Black Krim is a good gourmet option for those who don’t like their tomatoes very sweet, as only the fruits left to ripen on the vine develop any hint of sweetness. These are acidic tomatoes with an almost salty taste. Black Krim tomatoes have also been described as having a smoky aroma. Other acidic purple tomatoes to try include Cherokee Purple, Purple Calabash, and Black Cherry.

Black Krim: Iridescent purple; smoky flavor like a good single-malt Scotch.”

Tomato: A Fresh-from-the-Vine Cookbook, by Lawrence Davis-Hollander
Black krim organic tomato seeds - west coast seeds
The black krim tomato: gourmet european heirloom tomatoes

How To Grow Black Krim Tomatoes

Growing Black Krim tomatoes is very similar to most types of open-pollinated, vining tomato plants.

Black Krim tomatoes can be grown at home from seed or can be purchased as potted seedling plants from a plant nursery. If growing from seed, purchase your Black Krim tomato seeds in the winter and plant them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your area (usually this means sowing seeds indoors sometime in February-March).

Specialty nurseries may carry seedling Black Krim tomato plants (although this variety is less common than others like Brandywine). Whether you’re growing from seed or from purchased seedlings, don’t put them outdoors until the threat of frost has passed. Although they are hardier than some other tomato varieties, Black Krim tomato plants can be damaged at temperatures below 43°F (6°C).

Black krim tomato plants
The black krim tomato: gourmet european heirloom tomatoes

Once outdoors, plant your Black Krim tomato plants in nutrient-rich soil that drains water easily. These are large plants which should be spaced about 2 feet apart. They grow particularly well in raised garden beds and in large containers like wine barrel gardens. Put the Black Krim plants in a location where their leaves get direct sunlight for at least 6-8 hours per day. Also ensure they are close to a water spout so they will be watered frequently (a drip irrigation system is excellent for watering tomato plants).

Black Krim tomato plants are indeterminate, meaning their vines keep growing longer and longer throughout the season. These larger vines require a significant trellis or cage structure to support them. Skip the small standard hardware store tomato cages and opt for a heavy-duty tomato cage, a sturdy vertical plant stake, a large garden obelisk, or even a metal garden arch. Use twine or plant ties to secure the vines to the support structure as they grow.

Heirloom tomato plants like Black Krim are heavy feeders, and can benefit from high-quality organic fertilizer. Start with some homemade compost (or store-bought organic compost if you don’t have homemade). For an extra nutrient boost, try an organic tomato fertilizer, like one of these options:

Black krim tomatoes growing on the vine
The black krim tomato: gourmet european heirloom tomatoes

How Long For Black Krim Tomatoes To Ripen?

Black Krim tomatoes typically ripen 70-90 days after the seedling plant is transplanted outdoors into a garden bed or other permanent growing location. Expect to nurture the plant for 2-3 months before harvesting the first tomato from the vine.

Harvesting Black Krim Tomatoes

Black Krim tomatoes can either be left to ripen on the vine to their characteristic dark hue, or harvested a bit early and left at room-temperature to ripen. In a protected garden, it can be wonderful to leave some of these tasty fruits on the vine until the peak of ripeness to help that complex flavor develop (including maybe a hint of sweetness). In areas where birds and other critters threaten ripening fruits, consider picking a few before they reach their classic dark purple color. Let them ripen on the kitchen counter (skip the fridge, which can make them mealy).

How Tall Do Black Krim Tomato Plants Get?

Black Krim tomato plants can get quite a bit taller than many other popular types of tomatoes. The vines can grow up to 6 feet tall inside a large tomato trellis and can get over 10 feet tall when vertically staked. These big tomato plants require a sturdy, heavy-duty trellis or other type of support (the small standard tomato cages from the hardware store won’t do).

Like most heirlooms, Black Krim tomato plants are indeterminate, meaning their vines will keep growing longer throughout the growing season. The fruits are open-pollinated, and the seeds can be saved from year to year and tend to “breed true”.

Are Black Krim Tomatoes Heirloom Tomatoes?

Black Krim Tomatoes are one variety of Heirloom Tomato. The Black Krim tomato is a cultivar (variety/type) bred in Eastern Europe. The word “Krim” (also spelled Krym), is the Ukrainian word for the peninsula of Crimea. The Black Krim tomato is thought to be an heirloom tomato developed in the Krym region of Eastern Europe.

“A favourite of gourmet chefs, this unique heirloom tomato consistently wins top place and receives rave reviews at taste trials. The fruits are extremely juicy with incredibly complex sweet, smoky flavours and a hint of saltiness.”

Black Krim Tomatoes, West Coast Seeds
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a gardening expert and founder of Home for the Harvest. She's also an engineer and certified permaculture garden designer. Mary Jane has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, Heirloom Gardener, and Family Handyman.