I have been wanting to start a seasonal blerp where I talk about the seasons best produce and how to incorporate it into your meals. Some of these little jems are only around for a month out of the year at their freshest and many of us miss out on them. You know, like the Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s, the Peppermint Blizzard at DQ or my favorite Mexican Chocolate Tort that is only around in May! Same concept, but much healthier 🙂
Anyways, about the heirloom tomatoes…
Every time I have bought these at the grocery store this season the person at the register has asked “what are heirloom tomatoes?” as they were ringing them up. As I shared my knowledge, I thought this would be a great blog post and the perfect opportunity to share one of my unique and lesser known seasonal faves.
What are heirloom tomatoes? They are seriously OLD tomatoes which seeds have been passed down for generations due to their valued characteristics. Their parent plants are cross bread to bring out the best characteristics of beautiful colors and delicious taste. Their colors range from green, yellow, orange, purple, red of course and any combination of these colors with stripes or beautiful variegated patterns. There taste is said to be of old world tomatoes; like nothing you can find in the grocery store these days and to that I can attest. The taste is so pure because unlike tomatoes of today they are bread for flavor and color rather than durability.
Season? Heirloom tomatoes are harvested all summer, but I usually see them in the grocery store in the late summer early fall. Here is a site where you can buy seeds according to season and check out the vast array of varieties (http://www.tomatofest.com/heirloom_tomato_seed_home.html).
Where are they found? They are best found at farmers markets, in grocery stores like Lunds & Byerly’s that sell produce from local farms and in some restaurants. Because they are not bread for their hardiness, they are delicate, more easily perish and do not travel well from afar. This means that they are recently harvested when you get them and will not have long shelf life. They are also more expensive than regular tomatoes, but totally worth it!
What to make with them? They are beautiful and delicious on sandwiches, in salads and as appetizers. Use them in any way you can showcase their beauty and share their unique flavors with others (http://myhomemdelife.blogspot.com/2011/06/summer-is-here-roasted-heirloom.html). One of my favorite appetizers below can be made with heirloom tomatoes by stacking thinly sliced toasted baguette, toping with slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and a thick slice of heirloom tomato. Finally, top with large basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
Cheers, to old tomatoes!