11 Aug

Heirloom Tomatoes

One of everyone’s favorite garden vegetables is the tomato. Technically a fruit, tomatoes from the back yard are like manna from heaven. Sweet, juicy, delectable and indescribably delicious, a home grown tomato is like nothing else under the Sun. It’s often the main reason that people begin to garden.

Over the years, tomatoes have been bred to be larger, denser or more disease-resistant than their predecessors. Some have been designed to handle shipping and shelf life with ease. Yet, what is often missing in these modern identities is flavor. So, with increasing intensity, people have been turning to old fashioned or heirloom varieties.

I plant virtually all heirloom tomatoes. Yes, they are fussier to manage. Often they will get the blight. But sink your teeth into a truly ripe old fashioned tomato and the burst of flavor makes you not even mind the dribble of juice that is busy sliding down your cheek. Unbelievable! Outrageously rich! Orgasmic!

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We are fortunate to have a quality nursery nearby that sells over one hundred different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Names like “Blue Chocolate” and “Chocolate Stripe” imply a depth of velvety intensity unavailable in supermarket brands. “Mortgage Lifter” was given its calling after allowing the farmer to sell enough tomatoes to do just that. “Brandywine” and “Caspian Pink” with their potato-like leaves have been the favorite of chefs for quite a while. “San Marzanos” and “Black Plum” are super-thick and cook down into a hearty sauce more quickly. “Black Krim” takes my breath away.

Some farmers will even sell boxes of heirlooms in season. These are great to eat or can as is or as a garden delight to inspire and enhance winter menus. I consider these delectable items to be like “summer in a jar.”

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So even if you didn’t plant any lovely heirloom goodies, find a farmer that did. If you were fortunate enough to put some in the ground yourself, let them get really red and soft to the touch before you pick them. Be prepared to have one of the best tomatoes of your life. Bon apetit!

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