The Double Meaning Behind Beefsteak Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a versatile food that can be used in a number of dishes like pasta, salads, and soups. They can even be used to make eccentric recipes such as the classic Bloody Mary cocktail, bruschetta, ratatouille, and more!

This round, red plant is primarily prepared like a vegetable despite being a fruit from the nightshade family. Tomatoes can come in a medley of colors, including red, yellow, orange, green, and purple. Plus, they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with over 10,000 tomato varieties, according to Homegrown. You're probably most familiar with tomato varieties like cherry, grape, Roma, globe, and Kumato. There's also the classic, baseball-sized "beefsteak" tomato, which can primarily be found thickly sliced on top of burgers and sandwiches.

But why exactly is a beefsteak tomato called a "beefsteak?" Does it actually have anything to do with beef or steak? You may be surprised by the answer.

The double meaning behind beefsteak tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are large, meaty tomatoes that are perfect for slicing due to their unusual thick size. Beefsteak tomatoes not only stand out compared to other small, berry-sized tomatoes, but they can be much heavier, too, with some weighing in over a pound!

MasterClass states that there are five varieties of beefsteak tomato, including the "Cherokee Purple," which is distinct for its pinkish shade and flavorful taste. There is also the "Brandywine," "Big Beef," "Black Krim," and "Mortgage Lifter." All of these names may spark your curiosity due to their oddity, but they're most commonly referred to as just "beefsteak." Serious Eats says that the word beefsteak actually refers to the category of shape, which is why there is more than one type of beefsteak tomato.

However, the word beefsteak can also be considered a play on words since the word itself means "a thick slice of beef," according to the Britannica Dictionary. This most likely comes from its beefy size, which can be compared to a large hunk of meat.

What's the difference between a beefsteak tomato and a regular tomato?

What makes this thickly fleshed fruit so different from normal, regular-sized tomatoes, and why would you want to opt for this type of tomato over another?

When you think of a classic, juicy, and mild tomato flavor, chances are you're probably imagining a beefsteak tomato. These tomatoes are bright and balanced in flavor without being too acidic like some smaller-sized tomato varieties can be (per Home for the Harvest). Beefsteak tomatoes are also significant in size and firm in texture, making them ideal for slicing and dicing. Other tomato types can be harder to work with because they're soft and don't hold their shape as well as a beefsteak tomato does.

So, next time you want to cut sliced tomatoes for sandwiches or burgers, you'll want to stick to a beefsteak. The same goes for fresh salsa or making your own homemade ketchup. When in doubt, if you're ever wondering what type of tomato to choose at the grocery, picking up a plump beefsteak will never disappoint.