Tomato ‘Fourth of July’

FN 1.07 TOM Fourth of July
‘Fourth of July’ actually delivers red Tomatoes by Independence Day

Two years ago we planted about 80 different cultivars in our kitchen garden to truly understand the sublime fruit that is known as the Tomato. With so many varieties, we fully expected both hits and misses to appear over the season, but we did not expect our breakout favorite to be—not a heritage, not a mass market, not a beefsteak—but a cultivar best known for its early arrival in the season. Of all things, we liked Tomato ‘Fourth of July’ the best for several reasons beyond its signature feature.

FN 1.16 TOM Fourth of July
That small package hides some surprises

First, the hype is true: if you plant it before Memorial Day, ‘Fourth of July’ will deliver ripe, bright red Tomatoes by Independence Day. With an early Tomato, we expect the breeders to make compromises in the race to be first and this one is no exception. ‘Fourth of July’ is small. It weighs about a couple of ounces, a bit larger than a golf ball, because a small fruit will always ripen before a big one. We can see some cherry heritage in the clustering of the fruit as well.

FN 1.06 TOM Fourth of JulyTomato ‘Fourth of July’ won a taste contest held by the University of California, Davis

Second, and really First Reason B, this variety is surprisingly good. It’s nicely balanced with both sweet and tart flavors that deliver a nice tomato-y tang right down the middle. It’s not super sweet like some of the cherries, not acidic like a few of the heritage selections, not bland like—frankly—those other early Tomatoes. We call it delicious. In fact, the University of California, Davis held a taste test in the Salad Tomato category, and ‘Fourth of July’ actually won.

FN 1.17 TOM Fourth of JulyA healthy way to replace the candy bowl over the summer

Now the third reason is snacking—but that turned out to be the biggest First Reason of all. Its small size is a genuine advantage. Bigger than a cherry and smaller than a slicer, we called it a Snacker; while strolling through the kitchen we discovered that two or three of these Tomatoes fit easily into one hand as we passed by the snack bowl.

FN 1.15 TOM Fourth of July
Tomato ‘Fourth of July’ has a thicker skin so it crunches when you bite into a whole one

Pop one in your mouth and listen for the crunch as you bite down on it. That snap comes from a thicker skin and firmer flesh so ‘Fourth of July’ definitely delivers a satisfying mouth feel that packages everything into a very seductive flavor. We would routinely detour into the kitchen to get more.

FN 1.12 TOM Fourth of July
Blemish-free skin comes from high disease resistance

Our fourth reason for liking it is flexibility. At this point, like is turning into respect. Two slices will deliver four Tomato quarters to toss into a small salad. Three cuts across the middle fills a sandwich with no leftovers—a big deal in our household. ‘Fourth of July’ is right-sized for single servings when we want that fresh Tomato flavor mixed in and nothing returned to the refrigerator. On a lark, we made sauce and cut some up for drying and storing in oil; both turned into winter delicacies.

FN 1.14 TOM Fourth of July
Plants deliver fruit on a steady, reliable basis throughout the summer

Finally, the last major reason that sealed the deal for us is the plant’s dependability. It just chugs—the harvest is steady and heavy from mid-June to mid-October in our part of Ohio. Since it is a hybrid, it is fairly successful in resisting wilts and blights and rusts, but we do admit to plucking away the bottom leaves in summer to improve air circulation around the stems. As a result, that big snack bowl we used to channel the harvest never really emptied, even with the heavy snacking. If we had to choose just one Tomato, it would be ‘Fourth of July’.

This selection is available in the 4.5-inch pot.

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