Tomatoes Worth Growing: ‘Giallo a Grappoli’

2011. It was the first year in my new garden, and with what initially felt like space to spare, I went wild, starting seed from every tomato that caught my fancy. I had heard about Italian long keeping tomatoes and was eager to try them. These are tomatoes that don’t ripen well on the vine within the growing season. Instead, they are brought indoors before the frost and hung in a cool spot (usually a basement or garage) to be enjoyed fresh throughout the winter. For the first time in my adult life I had a basement, so it was all systems go. I started the seed from two varieties: a small orange, bicolour fruit called ‘Giallo a Grappoli’ and the more commonly known red type ‘Grappoli d’Inverno.’ It turned out that my eyes were a lot larger than my new garden. When forced to make a choice I chose orange, ‘Giallo a Grappoli.’

    The details:

  • Semi-determinate/large determinate.
  • Open-pollinated
  • Small, round, saladette size.
  • Bicolour orange with blushes of yellow and deep orange.
  • Ripens: Very late season
  • Container Growing: I grew these in-ground but would suggest a very large pot, 16+ deep.
  • Further Notes: Name translates to “Yellow Clusters”

True to their description, the plant formed fruit around mid-season and while other tomatoes came and went around them, the ‘Giallo a Grappoli’ seemed stuck in suspended animation. They did not ripen, but they did not rot either. They remained firm and developed little colour straight through to the frost. I tried the ripest fruit on the vine — it was fairly tasteless and a little mealy; not my favourite tomato of the season.

I pulled up the entire plant, stems and all and hung it on a hook in the cold cellar portion of my basement. Over time the fruit began to take on colour. We ate a few here and there, but again, they were mealy and bland. On December 24 the fresh tomato season had long passed and we were salivating for fresh fruit. While the tomatoes could not compare to an exceptional, fresh tomato in-season, these were suddenly pretty darn good. We marvelled over the novelty of a fresh tomato sandwich grown in our own backyard and enjoyed in the dead of winter.

I will grow these again in the future. After-all, tasty or not, these were fresh, affordable, organic tomatoes in the middle of winter that did not travel thousands of miles to get to my plate. Next time I will try hanging just the clusters without the entire plant. I will also try cooking or roasting the fruit in the oven, rather than eating fresh.

Have you grown this variety? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it.

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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15 thoughts on “Tomatoes Worth Growing: ‘Giallo a Grappoli’

  1. Hi
    This sounds an interesting variety. I have grown Rosada, Floridity (both cherry plum) and San Marzano (plum) Italian tomatoes but nothing quite like this.

    I suppose in the UK we would call this a cherry tomato. I would be interested to know where you got the seeds from – it doesn’t seem to be available here?


  2. Hello! I feel like I’ve been living under a rock in that I only recently discovered your website (and books)! Have to admit that after several days of digging around your posts I was compelled today to order You Grow Girl and Grow Great Grub. Early next week I’ll begin stalking the mailman despite already knowing when the books will arrive. I’m reading your tomato reviews with great interest as I try to figure out what to grow this year. Last year we overloaded the garden with tomatoes because I couldn’t bear to part with a single plant (lovingly grown from seed). Hubby called it “tomato hell”…LOL. Anyway – just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your blog now that I’ve found it.

    • Welcome Gaile! I know from experience how hard it can be to let go of plants that you want to grow. I give mine away so SOMEONE grows them, but the process of choosing is painful, especially when it comes to tomatoes!

  3. Did they have the “winter tomato” taste, or were they just not sweet? I’m curious how this and “Long Keeper” would compare.

    • I haven’t tried any other long keepers for comparison, but they were a bit mealy, which is always a big turnoff for me. Just a little boring — not much flavour.

  4. Fresh, organic tomatoes in December? Sounds way too good to be true. Well, at least stateside – here in Australia, December is peak summer, so our tomatoes were perfect. It’s June where they fall apart.

  5. I’ve always wondered – you grow so many varieties of tomato, but you also talk about saving seeds. Do you find cross-pollination to be a problem? Do you take any particular precautions to make sure the seed is usable?

    • Oh, I see! Do you mind telling me what you “bag” them with? And does this work for other fruiting veg? I imagine it wouldn’t work for those that have male and female blossoms. Hand-pollination, then?

  6. Love the blog! Clever name. I stumbled across it because I am currently babysitting some baby Grappoli D’Iverno. I have a grow light set-up in Fargo & would love to have a tomato off the vine from my garage in the winter. Do you have any recommendations on transplanting to a pot? Soil mix?

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