Pick of the Week - Heirloom Tomatoes
Posted July 22, 2015
"It's difficult to think of anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." Lewis Grizzard
There's nothing better than a homegrown tomato fresh from the fields. A big juicy heirloom is truly awesome in flavor as well as really interesting in looks. Heirloom tomatoes are generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down through several generations of a family because of its valued characteristics. Some varieties have been cultivated for over 100 years.
They are “open pollinated” tomatoes as opposed to today’s hybrids. Varieties with long histories include Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Jubilee, and German Green. Each variety is truly unique, exhibiting a special taste, color, texture or shape. Many varieties do not travel well because of their thin skins and have a shorter shelf life than conventional tomatoes but they are ideally suited to being grown by the small farmer who can quickly bring them to market once they are fully ripe.
Since “heirloom” varieties have become more popular in the past few years there have been liberties taken with the use of this term for commercial purposes. In addition to these old-time varieties, a growing number of new varieties are being developed by plant breeders. These new varieties are aimed at the home and market grower, and they also may be marketed as the inclusive term “heirloom.” Taste is the main factor for purchasing heirlooms. They are not always pretty tomatoes, have unique form and shape, but the flavor will win you over. Pick up some truly delicious heirlooms at the farmers’ market for a taste of what a tomato should be.