Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kumato Brand Tomatoes from Syngenta/Mastronardi Produce

Kumato tomatoes have shown up in America. They are a black tomato; the box says brown tomato. Presumably the dark color is due to more flavorful and nutritious tannins and terpenes. Obviously they are not "black," seed developers and seed catalog writers exaggerate.

Many people like the flavor of these tomatoes, and I do too. They have an earthier flavor than most store-bought tomatoes. My DW likes the texture, especially the thin skin. Notice they have very few seeds. In my opinion the Kumato's texture is a bit mushy and pasty -- like a Roma tomato. I like my home-grown Black Cherry tomatoes better. I started them from seeds I bought from Pinetree Seeds. See the picture at the bottom.

In the US and Canada, Kumato tomatoes are distributed by Mastronardi Produce, which has the Sunset line of tomatoes. Mastronadri is growing these in huge greenhouses in Ontario. It is unclear if distribution is regional or national. A California company, Dulcinea, is also selling a black tomato that it calls "Rosso Bruno," and this may be the same tomato.

The Kumato seed is from the Swiss company Syngenta, a large, agricultural products business formed from the merger of AstraZeneca and Novatis in 2000. The Kumato fruit was available in the UK since 2004. says that it was developed by Damien Flores in Spain under contract to Syngenta, and they were looking for a seed that grew in salty soil. Blogger TomatoAddict suggests that it might not be a hybrid as Syngenta claims, and that seed-saving might work.

There is a story that the genetic ancestor of these tomatoes came from the Galapagos Islands, and indeed there are/were wild, dark orange tomatoes there. There have also been so-called black tomatoes in Ukraine for generations.

Syngentia is only releasing the seed to commerical growers as happened with the "Santa" "Grape Tomato" previously.

At right is my home-grown Black Cherry Tomato. I think they taste much better -- sweeter and tomato-ier, than the Kumato. As mentioned, my DW likes the texture of the Kumato, better than my cherry tomatoes though.