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Looking for a big, sweet, tropical-tasting tomato? You’ve gotta try the Pineapple tomato!
The Pineapple Tomato is a large, yellow, beefsteak-type tomato known for its sweet flavor and bright red peel with blush striping. This big slicer tomato variety grows on long, indeterminate vines that grow longer and longer throughout the season. The Pineapple is a gourmet heirloom tomato variety not often available in grocery stores (but sometimes available at specialty grocers and farmers markets).
Read on to learn more about Pineapple tomatoes.
The Pineapple Tomato is an heirloom tomato cultivar thought to have originated in Kentucky. In addition to the yellow-colored background of the peel, the Pineapple tomato also has a somewhat citrus-like tang, reminiscent of tropical fruit. This variety is well-known as one of the best-tasting tomatoes available.
Pineapple Tomatoes are very large, with single fruits often weighing 1-2 pounds. Pineapple is a classic bicolor heirloom tomato. The tomatoes have a yellow peel with orange and red marbling. Pineapple tomatoes have firm, meaty flesh and a sweet, somewhat tangy taste.
“Pineapple: Marbled bicolor with silky smooth texture, complex fruity taste.”Tomato: A Fresh-from-the-Vine Cookbook, by Lawrence Davis-Hollander
Pineapple tomato plants are indeterminate, with their long vines continuing to grow and fruit until frost. These large plants require a vertical stake and/or an outer support cage to keep the heavy fruits off the ground.
Pineapple Tomatoes have a sweet, almost tropical flavor accompanied by a citrus-like tang. The flesh is smooth and rich, making this sweet treat one of the best tomato varieties for making sandwiches. Pineapple tomatoes have lots of pulp and few seeds.
The Pineapple Tomato is a well-known heirloom tomato variety. Very little is known about its history or origins, other than it is rumored to be from Kentucky (a state that has produced many fantastic bicolor heirloom tomatoes).
“Pineapple is a very large, classic bicolor (yellow streaked with red) heirloom tomato type that can be found under a dozen different names. Pineapple is one of the largest – and the cleanest. At least in my garden it resists cracking and splitting, even in wet seasons, and ripens up smoother and more perfectly formed than most of my other bicolors. It’s a nice love apple to show off – or maybe even enter at the county fair.”You Bet Your Garden Guide to Growing Great Tomatoes: How to Grow Great-Tasting Tomatoes in Any Backyard, Garden, or Container, by Mike McGrath
Growing Pineapple tomatoes is very much the same as growing other indeterminate beefsteak-type heirloom tomatoes.
Pineapple 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 Pineapple tomato seeds in the winter or early spring and plant them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your area (usually this means sowing seeds indoors sometime in February-March). If available, an easier option is to buy Pineapple seedling plants, although they are not too commonly sold in garden centers.
Whether you’re growing from seed or from purchased seedlings, don’t put them outdoors until threat of frost has passed. Tomato plants can be damaged at temperatures below 43°F (6°C). Read more about when to transplant tomatoes outdoors.
Once outdoors, plant your Pineapple 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 large Pineapple 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).
Pineapple 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.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders (especially large beefsteak-types like Pineapple Tomato) which can benefit from added nutrients when planted in containers or nutrient-deficient soil. Start by top-dressing soil with some homemade compost (or store-bought organic compost if you don’t have homemade). For an extra nutrient boost, try an one of these organic tomato fertilizers on your tomato plants:
Pineapple tomato plants can grow 6-10 feet tall (or more). Pineapple tomatoes are indeterminate beefsteak-type tomatoes, which tend to be the largest types of tomatoes to grow. These vigorous plants grow largest when given a sturdy trellis structure to support the vines. Plant size can also be increased by planting them in a sunny location with nutrient-rich, well-draining soil and consistent watering.
Pineapple Tomatoes take a long time to ripen – about 90 days (3 months) after the seedlings are transplanted outdoors into the garden. The giant size of the fruits means they must stay on the vine for several months before being ready to harvest.
“The ripe fruit color of a particular yellow or orange variety can vary from season to season, or even within a particular season, depending on the temperature at which the tomato ripens.”Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time, by Craig LeHoullier
The Pineapple Tomato generally retains its yellow color when ripe, with a bit of orange/red/pink marbling. The flesh should remain firm. Don’t wait until the tomato is soft to pick it, as the texture will become mealy and the flavor will go off when it is over-ripe. Under-ripe fruits can be left in an airy, room-temperature spot (like the kitchen counter) to ripen.