There are many subtle variants of the Yellow Beefsteak (some with quite different attributes) but this particular variety could be slightly different (or not) from what others grow with the same name.
As with all the tomato reviews on SSM, the article will summarise by giving the tomato variety a final rating score by averaging the rating scores for the tomato on the following criteria:
Size of Fruit vs Productivity
Taste & Meatiness (texture)
Disease and Pest Resistance
So, without prejudice, let's get started!
The Yellow Beefsteak, just like the Black Russian, is an odd coloured tomato and although it might be “different” one should never judge a book by it's cover.
The Yellow Beefsteak tomato is a large indeterminate plant (continues to grow-on kind-of like a vine) with a thick leader and many long branching off-stems; therefore, it will need staking or support. An heirloom variety so it's true-to-type if you wish to keep the seeds for re-planting. [However, my research has found considerable confusion amongst tomato enthusiasts about whether this variety is indeed true heirloom. All I can say is I save the seeds and grow same plant year to year. Mind you, this confusion is the case for most tomato varieties with so many sub-varieties from the same plant and subtle differences branded with completely different names, it can be difficult to get a “pure bred heirloom variety.” And, buying seedlings can be even worse with most producers not labelling with heirloom or hybrid (probably deliberately).]
Anyway, the fruit has a striking yellow coloured skin when ripe (although sometimes the colour does tinge towards orange) with a similar coloured flesh with evenly spaced, medium sized seed cavities when sliced. Everyone comments about the unusual colour of the fruit but feedback from most is they find the colour appealing.
Size varies on the plant; however, the fruit are generally large with size ranging from 3 – 5 inches across with a shape more pleated than round.
Productivity is fair but don't expect bumper crops from this plant (from my experience anyway) as it doesn't seem to set fruit easily. Nevertheless, what fruit it does produce holds on the vine well and develops beautifully. I've seen an “improved” Yellow Beefsteak/Colossal on the market, which is likely a hybrid and would probably give more consistently large fruit sizes.
Special Growing Tips and Observations
Obtaining the seed through heirloom seed providers would be the best option if you wanted an authentic plant similar to the description to save your own seed time after time. But buying commercial varieties of this tomato might get you better results as a one-off – knowing that saving the seeds from a commercially produced plant may not get you the same fruit. I got my Yellow Beefsteak seeds through eBay.
Soil preparation and planting is no different than any other tomato plant:
Does best in well-draining soil.
Dig-in some compost and manure for extra food.
Throw around and dig-in a few handfuls of dolomite (for extra calcium).
Plant seedlings quite deep up to its first set of leaves (to promote more root growth).
If direct sowing with seed, sow two or three per station, keep soil moist, then thin out to one plant.
Feed young plant with some seaweed solution every few weeks.
Boost feed with some potassium or trace elements at flowering or early fruit set.
Mulch the soil around base of plant.
Extra feed as the plant begins to flower may help this variety to form and sustain more fruit but I haven't tried this as yet.
The Yellow Beefsteak doesn't hate a subtropical winter but flowering and vigour is best mid-spring and I try to time the plant to be at flowering stage around 2 weeks into spring. Once the humidity hits in summer the plant has a tough time surviving but it does seem to struggle on nevertheless. As the plant begins to struggle the fruit size drops down considerably; however, taste is not affected.
I rarely see fruit fly larva in this variety but I do see some signs of strike (tiny brown pinhole sized spots) and I often wonder why the fruit isn't spoilt. I have a feeling the fruits high acid content sometimes neutralises the fruit fly eggs so they don't get a chance to hatch out – just guessing though.
Taste and Best Uses
Taste is most definitely the best attribute of the Yellow Beefsteak tomato. The Yellow Beefsteak I grow has a savoury acidic taste that is unbelievably good and so prominent I use less salt because extra seasoning is just not required. This tomato grills beautifully as an open melt and tastes as good as it looks. Mixed with red varieties of tomatoes the yellow colour stands out on cracker biscuits, bruschetta, hors d'oeuvre, and in salads to give an interesting display.
If you have never tasted the Yellow Beefsteak and you are a tomato fan, then you just have to try this variety as I promise you will not be disappointed.
Final Say and Score
The Yellow Beefsteak tomato may not be the best plant to grow due to its requirement for almost perfect tomato conditions for it to thrive and produce lots of fruit; however, what fruit this plant does produce is usually a good large size and the taste scale for me can't get better. Coupled with high x-factor due to its unique colour and extra kudos for being an heirloom variety, this tomato no doubt scores well.
I like this variety of tomato because of its unusual colour, excellent taste, and fruit size.
Size of Fruit vs Productivity – 8
Taste & Meatiness (texture) – 10
Disease and Pest Resistance – 7
Growth – 7
X-Factor – 10
Full score is 42 points with an overall average total of a 8.4 – SSM Tomato Rating.
And there you have it for the Yellow Beefsteak tomato, one you won't find in any supermarket so to try this variety you'll need to grow it at home – and boy it's worth the effort!
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Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Home Grown Yellow Beefsteak Tomato – Hello Beautiful!