ITHACA — Researchers at Cornell University say a new variety of cherry tomatoes from Cornell AgriTech provides improved yield and shelf-life, while enhancing visual and culinary appeal.
Cherry tomatoes are a staple in home gardens, farm fields and local food markets, but growing them can be challenging.
A cross between heirloom tomato varieties, Cherry Ember was developed by Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture. The new tomato is now on sale through Fruition Seeds, an organic seed company based in Naples, Ontario County.
“One of the problems with cherry tomatoes is that they tend to have thin skins, and so half of them crack on the plant, and the half that you pick crack after a few days,” Mr. Griffiths said in a news release. “Cherry Ember is a little firmer, with more of the post-harvest characteristics of a grape tomato.”
He explained its thicker skin and meatier flesh help keep the fruit from cracking both in the field and after being harvested — even during high rainfall seasons, which pose problems for thinner skins.
“The increased shelf-stability is a very important attribute of this variety, especially when combined with high yield, desirable aesthetics and a smaller, single-bite size,” Mr. Griffiths said.
When Petra Page-Mann saw Cherry Ember at one of Mr. Griffiths’ field trials in 2019, it stood out for her like a “luminescent gem.” As the co-owner of Fruition Seeds, she has seen increased grower interest in unique color and flavor combinations.
With its metallic gold stripes, rich taste and ease to grow, Ms. Page-Mann was eager to add the new variety to her company’s sales portfolio, but it still needed a name.
Last fall, she launched a naming contest on Fruition Seeds’ Instagram account with Mr. Griffiths’ support. They sorted through more than 1,000 suggestions before holding the final runoff vote, where Cherry Ember emerged as a clear winner.
Cherry Ember also gives growers something to look forward to as early as mid-July since it ripens just 65 days after being planted and continues to grow until the first frost.
In its description of the tomato on its website, Fruition Seeds says, “We love the glorious sweetness of these gorgeous cherry tomatoes, each one a luminescent gem, like a striped heart-shaped apple, so creamy and so juicy. We also love that Cherry Ember rarely cracks, no matter the rain that falls.”