You might already be familiar with Roma and Cherry tomatoes. We used them on a regular basis on salads, sandwiches, and sauces. But have you heard of heirloom tomatoes? These strange-looking tomatoes are popping up everywhere these days – from farmers’ markets to supermarkets. Read on to see whether they’re worth the fuss.
First things first. What are heirloom tomatoes? This term refers to tomatoes whose seeds have remained unaltered for generations, which means that they haven’t gone through cross pollination, neither have they been genetically modified. So the seeds you have today, would be exactly the same type as you would have gotten 100 years ago. You might ask then why we don’t find these tomatoes everywhere, and the answer is quite simple. Heirloom tomatoes are difficult to produce on a commercial scale. Unlike modern varieties, they don’t have the same resistance bred into them. They also require more labor, while producing a lower yield. So financially, it would make more sense to a farmer to stick to the well-known modern hybrids.
Heirloom tomatoes come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s not uncommon to find purple tomatoes, or green ripe ones. The various colors also taste differently – yellow tomatoes will have a tart taste, while red and green will be zestier. Whichever ones you buy, you will find them much tastier and juicier when compared to the normal supermarket variety.
Because these tomatoes are more difficult to grow, they tend to be more expensive. They bruise easily, so a lot of care goes into transportation and storage, to make sure they come out whole on the other side. Because of this, they have a short shelf life. So instead of letting them spoil, eat them as soon as you can!
Heirloom tomatoes are best enjoyed as is. Eat fresh slices on bread, or chop them up for a salad. Their flavor would easily get lost in a hot meal, so keep these beauties for dishes like salads and sandwiches. In fact, they taste so good, you might want to enjoy them raw with just a sprinkle of salt.
If you can’t find any heirloom tomatoes at a store or market near you, you can grow your own. Popular varieties are Cherokee Purple, Anna Russian, Azoychka, Brandywine, and Ferris Wheel. You will find seeds at your local nursery.