Eating On Heir – A Quick Look at Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes can be a difficult fruit to nail down, because there are so many kinds of tomatoes that go by that name, and even when defining what an heirloom tomato is, there isn’t consensus on what the word heirloom means. So let’s break this down to what we are really here for: what are they, and what’s the best way to eat heirloom tomatoes?
Imagine for a moment, that heirloom tomatoes were really just very old, well-preserved fruits that you inherited from your grandmother. That is NOT what an heirloom tomato is, but it is fun to imagine, right? Though these wonderful and diverse tomatoes will never be the family keepsakes that we all hope for, their seeds are an entirely different story.
Yes, heirloom tomatoes get their names from seeds. But these aren’t just any seeds. It’s a process of deliberation andstudy by the farmer, to determine the traits he or she finds most desirable in their tomato crops. Juiciness, size, color, and shape are all analyzed, and the seeds from the most desirable fruits are passed on from season to season. So the actual heirloom of heirloom tomatoes are the seeds that are harvested from the plants producing the most ideal fruit.
Best In Show
Since the right to be considered an heirloom tomato variety comes from seed lineage, there are a lot of different kinds of heirloom tomatoes. But we can rest assured that in spite of the diversity in size and color, a tomato that carries the heirloom name has been selected especially because of its excellence.
Nevertheless, here are some popular varieties of heirloom tomatoes that we proudly feature at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce:
Brandywine tomatoes are a hearty, vibrantly red tomato that works well in sandwiches, paired with fish, or served as a stand alone side item with a touch of salt and some basil.
The Cherokee Purple heirloom belongs to the beefsteak family of tomatoes and packs a surprising boost of Vitamin A, more so than most other tomato varieties. While the flesh is almost wine colored, the seeds can be either green or red.
And for the tomato-lover that is looking for an incredible tasting variety to eat whole, we have Sungolds. Versions of the cherry tomato, these bite-sized tomatoes are great in salads, or served in a number of great pasta dishes. They are also an excellent tomato for roasting, as a side dish or the starting component to a terrific vinaigrette.
We have more to choose from, so swing by and ask about Azoychka, Anna Russian, and Kellogg’s Breakfast tomatoes too!
And They’re Good For You Too
There are a lot of culinary and attractive reasons for spicing up your salads, sauces, and side items with a wide range of beautiful heirloom tomatoes, but there are also a host of healthy reasons too!
These low calorie fruits offer a rich sweetness without adding the calories that so many of us are counting. Additionally, most varieties of heirloom tomatoes are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. And because heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated, meaning they are grown naturally through the pollination of neighboring tomato plants and whatever else is grown nearby, that means that they contain a higher amount of lycopene, which is a strong antioxidant often connected to the prevention of several kinds of cancers. Lycopene also acts as a dye, that gives naturally grown tomatoes the red pigments that make them appear purple, red, or multi-colored.
The Best of All Kinds
Heirloom tomatoes are not the only tomatoes sold in our three locations, but as the summer fades and cooler temps return to Washington State, they are a terrific, fresh item to always be on the lookout for.
Big or small, with a wide array of colors and shapes, Tacoma Boys and H & L Produce have some beautiful heirloom tomatoes to try, and the stories of the local farmers that have diligently cultivated them. Come by soon! We can’t wait to serve you.