Yes Virginia, There is a Blue Tomato

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

And I am growing it!

Back in February a secret somebody, whose identity I will not reveal (pinky swear), gifted me a package of seeds of the only open-pollinated (OP) blue tomato to have been raised by natural plant breeding techniques (not GMO). I was under the impression that this yet-to-be-released tomato was so secretive that I didn’t plan to write about it at all and was extra careful not to show it in photos until last week when I did an internet search and discovered that everyone and their second cousin has been growing and writing about it willy nilly.

Perhaps it is not so secretive after all.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This experimental blue tomato (sometimes going by the name P20) is being produced by Oregon State University in an attempt to create an uber-healthy tomato with a high level anthocyanin, the powerful antioxidant found in blueberries.

Apparently the variety is still unstable and there is a lot of variation among the plants people are growing in terms of fruit size, shape, growth habit, and the amount of anthocyanin. I am growing two plants: one in a large container on the roof and one at the new yardshare garden that I am yet to fully reveal here. Both of my plants have produced early fruit with a distinctive blue/black colour. The plants have a lot of blue in them too, in both the stems and leaves.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

On Friday night a roof grown tomato ripened. Here’s what it looks like:

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

The side blue/black side is the part that gets the most sun, while the reddish portion is the part that hangs down on the vine and is partially shaded by leaves.

We recorded a short video as I tasted it for the first time, but unfortunately my description is about as lackluster as the fruit itself.

Having had some time to mull it over, I’d say the fruit tasted watery with a slight bitterness. Some people have described it as “inky” and I have to concur. — inky sounds about right. We’ll see what happens as more fruit ripens. I rarely come to a conclusion about a tomato based on the initial tasting.

And even if it does prove to be watery and “inky”, so what? I’m growing friggin’ SMURF tomatoes!

Update: Okay, remember what I said (above) about not judging a tomato on the first taste? Every tomato we’ve had from both of the ‘OSU Blue’ plants (container and in-ground grown) have been delicious. At least four people have tasted them now and we all agree that it does not suck and is indeed very beautiful. I don’t know what went wrong with the first tomato, but it is not the norm.

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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27 thoughts on “Yes Virginia, There is a Blue Tomato

  1. Do you always salt your tomato at first bite? I agree salt is perfect for tomatoes, but I usually taste them straight up at first just to get a better _baseline_ flavor description.

    I seriously bit into one of my tomatoes the other day and would swear it tasted salty straight from the garden. Mom concurred! Problem is I’m not sure which variety it was because my harvest basket was scrambled. (AND I got carried away and am growing 24 different varieties; One plant each of most of them.) So, I’m trying to figure out if this was a fluke tomato on the vine or was it the first fruit from a particular variety.

  2. Wild! Definitely worth growing regardless of taste. The foliage alone is fantastic! The tomato harvested from the rooftop garden looks almost like a plum caught in the light.

  3. Cooool. I love the blue foliage and I so want to try growing this. I planted 16 kinds this year (not as quite as many seren_dippity’s 24!). Are seeds available somewhere? I think I could still get a plant going down here in Norcal. It would complete the rainbow of this year’s plantings. (Yellow, Pink, Red, Green, White, Purple, Orange).

  4. Indeed, I guess looks aren’t everything. But the plant and its foliage have such unbelievable potential… maybe we’ll start seeing ornamental tomatoes, in the same way I already have some amazing (to look at!) tricolor (purple, green, white) Calico hot peppers. They can breed for small, berry-like blue tomatoes (which is what tomatoes were originally anyway) on a deep-blue foliage plant.

  5. Seren_Dippity: I don’t always use salt. Some varieties do taste salty on their own.

    The variety is called “OSU Blue”

  6. Looks stunning! What a novel thing to have… do they get any larger than a cherry tomato? Was thinking of a stunning tomato-feta-red onion salad served on fresh baby greens with a balsamic dressing…mmmm

  7. SCARY GENETIC “DR BUNSEN HONEYDEW” ENGINEERING !!!!!!………….are you sure it safe to eat????………..

  8. DAvid: You can try one. The tomatoes out back should be close to ripe.

    Vianne: Depends on the light. Very blue but also blue black. Very much unlike other tomatoes… because even the blacks are always more purple or red or brown.

  9. I got a hold of an heirloom called “Blue Osu” It has lots of blossoms on it, but has not produced anything but green fruits yet. I am so curious I can hardly stand it!I am also really excited about one called ‘Tie-dye” that I have not seen before. Have you heard of either one?

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