Five Gorgeous Ruffled Tomatoes Worth Growing

Ruffled Tomatoes

Clockwise from Top Right: ‘Noire de Coseboeuf,’ ‘Constoluto Fiorentino,’ ‘Zapotec Pink Pleated,’ ‘Yellow Ruffles,’ ‘Tim’s Black Ruffles.’

This is the time of year when I typically roll out a few photographs that brag of my annual tomato harvest. I have started taking photos, but I have to say that the strange weather this season has not been good for my tomato harvest. I planted seedlings out before I left on our desert road trip and when I returned 10 days later they had not grown an inch. By July some plants had hardly grown at all and it was clear that they would never reach maturity, even if the season picked up.

For the first time ever I made the decision to pull a few plants out in order to make better use of the spaces they occupied. Fortunately, the season did pick up and all remaining plants are producing; however, my garden will not exceed 100 pounds of fruit this year. In fact, my prediction is that I will see roughly 50+ pounds of ripe fruit and a whole lot of green tomatoes.

But I digress. I didn’t set out to write about the tomato season in this post. Instead, I want to direct you to one of my personal tomato proclivities: ruffled tomatoes! I try to grow a wide range of tomatoes that vary in colour, form, shape, taste, size, and growth habit. However, I always leave room to indulge in my personal preferences. In the category of taste, I tend to favour black/brown/purple fruit. They have a richness and depth of flavour that I prefer. I enjoy growing dwarf varieties because they have the ability to produce a lot of fruit in a small, urban space. And when it comes to aesthetic appeal, I reach for ruffled fruit every time.

These beautiful fruits that resemble a rippled pumpkin or an accordion fold are known in tomato nomenclature as ruffled, ribbed, or pleated. I can’t resist them and am striving little-by-little to grow every single variety I can find. The photo at the top of this page represents most of the ruffled varieties I am growing this year, but is not representative of the many varieties I have grown over time.

Zapotec Pink Pleated

About the Ruffled Tomatoes Depicted

This is not my first time growing ‘Noire de Coseboeuf,’ but this is the first year that they have turned out so small. I’m not sure what has changed, but I suspect that the seed I germinated this year may have crossed with another variety. The fruit is usually larger, more like ‘Purple Calabash’ and with deeper ribbing.

This is my first year growing ‘Constoluto Fiorentino.’ I tried to grow it last year, but accidentally gave all of my seedlings away! It was the first indeterminate fruit to ripen in 2013.

‘Zapotec Pink Pleated’ is in my top five favourite tomatoes. I grow it every year and it never disappoints. The only thing you should know is that it really needs a hot summer to do well.

I’ve grown ‘Yellow Ruffles’ a few times. It’s fairly hollow inside and is best used as a stuffing tomato. It’s doing very well this year despite a slow start.

‘Tim’s Black Ruffles’ is a cross between two of my top five tomato varieties, ‘Zapotec Pink Pleated’ and ‘Black Krim’ and was developed by Tim Munz. I’ve been growing it out ever since Tim gave me the seeds a number of years back. The first fruits were quite small but very dark, rich, and delicious. Three summers ago (when I first started growing in my current garden) I grew a plant that produced very large, exceptionally great fruit. I suspect this had to do with moving to a location where it had access to good soil nutrition and space and really warm, direct sun. I saved seed from the best of the bunch and have been growing from that batch since. Please note that the fruit depicted in this picture wasn’t fully ripe and had not yet achieved its full, dark colour.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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14 thoughts on “Five Gorgeous Ruffled Tomatoes Worth Growing

  1. Fantastic! I’ve grown Costuloto Genovese this year; is that similar to your Constoluto Fiorentino? (Incidentally, I got the seeds from Monticello, which makes them a double thrill to grow.)

    I find these fluted tomatoes such a delight on the plate, when sliced into cross-sections.

  2. Your Noire de Coseboeuf looks exactly like my Red Calabash, a Mexican heirloom. Some of the larger fruits on this plant get extra pleats, but most resemble your photo.

    I have grown Red Calabash 3 years in a row and this year they were the best ever. Among 7 different varieties, R.C. was the first seedling large enough to be transplanted out, the first plant to reach the top of the cage, the first to bear fruit… I even took an experimental sucker-cutting from the plant in late June and made a clone plant which started bearing about 3 weeks ago.

    My other favorite tomato is a Yugoslavian heirloom hand-me-down from a local octagenarian. It’s shaped like an Amish Paste tomato, pointy bottom, but has better flavor and the plant has better vigor. Beautiful, firm red flesh, thick and meaty on long-lived indeterminate plants. I am fermenting and saving seeds for the Yugoslavian annually, coming up to 15 years now.

    So many kinds of tomatoes and so little time to get to all of them!

  3. I very much enjoyed your show on Recreating Eden!
    So glad to see gardening carried on with the younger set these days & growing too… I delight in watching my garden grow & seed out & love to save seeds to grow.(tho’ sometimes they spill out of full drawers) It can be quite exciting.
    I was a very late bloomer with this joyful business of gardening.

    This year was my first successful year with garlic & they all produced seeds to replant for next year so carry on I must.

    Keep on growing,
    Ever learning,

  4. I had tomato runt issues this year too! I opted to leave mine in though and they are still only a few inches tall – I’ll probably rip them out this weekend and put in some fall annuals for some color. The runts are all determine cherry tomato varieties that have always been successful for me and always the first to produce fruit, I have no idea what happened to them this year. But on the flip side, my indeterminate tomatoes in the raised beds have gone insane and I will have a huge harvest (biggest I’ve seen). Growing tomatoes in Calgary is always unpredictable, but this has been the weirdest year so far.

    • Strange. All of my determinates were fine and productive, albeit a little slower than usual. It was only indeterminates that I pulled out and of those I kept, many are not producing the sort of crops they do in a hot summer.

  5. I’m in the Garden State, notorious for great tomatoes, and this year was just as bad as two years ago – lots of rot and stilted vines. Canning anything is out of the question, we barely have enough for the table. Sad year in that regard, but on a brighter note I was inundated with squash of all kinds and couldn’t keep up with picking beans because they came on so fast. But that’s gardening, feast and famine!

    Thanks for a great site!

  6. Those are still some sexy tomatoes! I love the look of the ruffled varieties. I always think of spaghetti when I see them…I love spaghetti

  7. They are so beautiful! I made the mistake of growing Lychee Tomatoes this year it will be the last time I grow them. The texture is weird and the spiky pods are hell. Next year I’m going to copy you!

  8. I think, the unusual weather is affecting gardening for many people in many places, & in general, not just for tomatoes. Let’s hope for better seasons in coming years. By the way, I agree those tomatoes look unbelievable, they seem to be jumping right out of those photos, & straight into my kitchen (or belly, lol)! Thanks for the great article.

  9. Found you by accident,,,a good accident for me. I’ll be searching for some heirloom seeds for my garden next year.
    We had a lot of water in East TN, this year and our tomato harvest was large in number but their flavor wasn’t very good. I hope to do better next year. Thanks for all your beautiful thoughts and pictures.

    • Flavour was certainly reduced for me across the board as well. It’s because we had a number of record-breaking rains, plus the cold temperatures. But the good ones are still good, regardless. just not as good as they have the potential to be. I find oven roasting helps bring up the flavour.

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