A few years ago I was walking into the main building of the beautiful University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum after a full day of touring. Off to the side was a table with a row of bowls, each containing a different cherry tomato variety. As I was hurrying past, a pleasant lady called out “Would you like to take our cherry tomato taste test?” It was late and the day was hot and I was tired, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I stopped. I’m glad I did.
After tasting each of the dozen cherry tomatoes, we were to pick our favorite. The hands-down winner was a golden cherry tomato with melt-in-your-mouth sweet flavor. When I declared it my favorite, the lady said “Yes, that’s the one everyone has liked best; it’s a new one called Sunsugar.”
Decades ago we all went wild when Sweet 100 cherry tomato was introduced. But every fruit cracked. Then Sweet Million and Supersweet 100 came along with less cracking. Now there are many, many cherry tomato varieties on the market. Which is sweetest, or most flavorful?
As I mentioned, the simple taste test in which I participated gave top honors to Sunsugar. But taste and sweetness can be just personal preferences. However, there is a scientific way to determine the sweetest cherry tomato. And with cherry tomatoes, the flavor and sugar content seem to be what appeals to most of us.
Sugar content can be measured scientifically, and given a number on the Brix Scale, which then can be used to compare tomato varieties. And the sweetest cherry tomato is? Yes, it’s Sunsugar with a Brix of 12 to 13. That’s compared to Supersweet 100’s Brix of 6. Another popular golden cherry tomato is Sungold, but its Brix is only 8. A recent All-America Selections winner is Candyland Red, which comes close, with a Brix of 12. Another that comes close is one called Sweet Apertif, with a Brix of 12.
A variety’s sugar content can vary a little from season to season, because it’s affected by the growing environment, including temperature and moisture. Most gardeners are familiar with tomatoes that just don’t taste as good during cool, cloudy summers. So if we try a tomato variety that has gotten rave reviews and we’re not impressed, we should remember that growing conditions can affect a one-time trial, skewing our impression.
This past summer we grew Sunsugar in our garden. It’s prolific (one plant fed four of us plus anyone we could give some to), very few of the fruits crack, and it became our new favorite cherry tomato. My favorite way to enjoy them is right out in the garden. They’re impossible to pick without sampling.
Seeds are readily available from many mailorder sources, for those who like to start a few plants. But I also saw Sunsugar for sale at several garden centers, offered as individual small plants, and one is really all you need.