Heirloom Tomatoes

Earthy, robust Russian Black Krim Tomatoes wedges sprinkled with a touch coarse salt and cracked black pepper plus shredded fresh Basil is hard to beat. Maybe a large, meaty slice of juicy, sweet and tangy Pink Brandywine or German Johnson Tomato with a slice of sharp cheddar on a potato roll could top it. And homemade Peach Salsa made with Purple Cherokee Tomatoes plus a variety of other Heirloom Tomatoes is sublime.

What exactly are Heirloom Tomatoes?

Most conventional, round Tomatoes have been hybrid-bred for consistency of size, shape, color, shelf-life and firmness – all so that they can safely make it through the supermarket supply channel and into your kitchen without getting soft or going bad. Heirlooms, on the other hand, are old and diverse varieties that have been around since WWII. Some have been passed down over the years by a family and others were created through natural cross-pollinations, still others were commercially produced by a seed company or university ag program ¾ of a century ago. With Heirloom varieties you can take seeds from this year’s fruit and plant it year after year and get the exact same tomato plant. Each Heirloom variety has its own special taste, texture, shape, size and color characteristics that make them unique and wonderful in their own way.

They’re ugly by most normal standards, …but the flavor, whether sweet, earthy, bold, tangy or bold – is always beautiful!

Heirloom Tomato Tips

  • Soft Tomatoes? Straight-talk: Heirloom Tomatoes are soft to begin with – you should expect them to have a little give. Since they are not “bred” for shelf-life, do not expect a long shelf-life. Use them quickly. Handle them with care.
  • Appearance? Oh, and they’re ugly by most normal standards, …but the flavor, whether sweet, earthy, bold, tangy or bold – is always beautiful!
  • Price? Since Heirlooms are not bred or hybridized for maximum production or disease resistance – yields are typically smaller and they cost more to grow. That is part of why you can expect to pay more. What is flavor worth to you?
  • Selection: Select Heirloom Tomatoes that are free from punctures, water blisters or large decay spots. Avoid Heirloom Tomatoes with open flesh splits or cracks that have not healed over into a scar. Otherwise, buy them and eat them!
  • Storage: Store Heirloom Tomatoes at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Do not refrigerate Tomatoes since it blunts flavor and makes them soft.

What makes an Heirloom Tomato and heirloom? What do the various types of Heirloom Tomatoes taste like? Jon tackles these questions and does a taste test for peak season (August), high flavor, Heirloom Tomatoes.