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Choosing Heirloom Tomatoes

Posted by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM
  • 28 Replies

If your only experience with tomatoes has been the rock-hard, almost tasteless supermarket variety, a backyard tomato is like a whole new world. They're juicy, flavorful and incredibly good with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Even the most typical, garden-variety tomato is delicious picked at peak ripeness and eaten while still warm from the sun, but a heirloom tomato fresh from a backyard garden or a farmer's market is something special. Heirloom varieties have been gaining in popularity the last several years. These little orbs of deliciousness are usually varieties that are more than 50 years old and fell by the wayside when tomatoes began to be bred for ease of shipping and long shelf life versus flavor; they survived because savvy gardeners saved and shared their seeds. They tend to look a lot different than your typical supermarket tomato, with stripes, wrinkles, and variegated colors as well as hues from bright yellow to sunset orange to an almost black red...or even green!

Like all tomatoes, they are low in calories and high in Vitamin A and C. One medium tomato is about 35 calories. And heirlooms are so beautiful, with their varying hues, and so delicious that the less you do to them the better; slice them, stack them on a plate with some chopped basil and a small drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and you'll have a salad worthy of any gourmet chef.

Some popular varieties are Brandywine, which looks and tastes the most like a typical beefsteak tomato, Cherokee Purple, with a dark, almost black skin and deep, tangy tomato flavor, and Green Zebra, which are bright and zippy. The ones in the photo are my first Sungold tomatoes from this year's planting.

Farmer's markets are the best place to buy heirloom tomatoes, because they typically will have been picked just hours before sale, and the farmer can tell you about the taste profile of each kind. Supermarkets are increasingly beginning to carry them, however. A good way to try heirloom varieties and figure out what you like is to buy a package of small, cherry-sized heirlooms (I usually find these right next to the grape tomatoes) and taste to your liking.

Do you grow heirloom tomatoes? What's your favorite?


by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
bergencounty
by Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 12:16 AM

 The Garden Club has an heirloom sale here ... I alternate each year.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Peppers

Silver Fir Tree

Pink Brandywine

Black Krim

Yellow Peach

Yellow Pear

Roma

Native Sun

Orange King

Box Car Willie

Mortgage Lifter

Anna Russian

Cherokee Purple

Green Zebra

Schimmeig's Striped Hollow

Golden Pearl

Christmas Grape

Aunt Ginny's Purple

Arkansas Traveler

San Remo Paste

Super Sioux

Rutgers

Pineapple

Husky Red

Isis Cherry

Hillbilly

Thesslonki

Amish Paste

Cayanne Thick Skin

Anaheim

Big Bertha Sweet Bell

Pretty in Purple Hot

Czech Black

michiganmom116
by Ruby Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 6:18 AM
1 mom liked this

I grow heirlooms.  The flavor is unbeatable!  This year I've got Delicious and Amish paste growing, along with a cherry variety whose name escapes me at the moment.  I've grown Juliet, Brandywine, Roma, and my DS/DIL have a few heirloom varieties in their garden area here that are very good!  One is a yellow cherry-sized tomato....my 19 month old granddaughter devours them like treats.

batjmom
by Sarah on Jul. 31, 2013 at 7:17 AM
I should be!
I love tomatoes from the garden. They have the best taste.
I have cherry tomatoes, Roma and one other kind I can't seem to remember growing in my garden
Peachy34500
by Gold Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Yum! we have these in our backyard .. in fact we just picked some this morning!
terri76
by Gold Member on Jul. 31, 2013 at 9:55 PM

I am not a tomato lover..but my dad grows all kinds..they have these grape like tomatoes that my mom eats like candy..straight off the vine!!

susham
by New Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 7:07 AM
I would definitely try them as they are nutritious and i luv cherries and grape like tomatoes would be great.as they are low in calories and high in vitamin A &C, nothing like it.
mrswillie
by Silver Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:21 AM
I don't have a favorite. Friends grow all different kinds and I love them.
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TerriC
by Bronze Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:38 AM

We have not had luck at all with our tomatoes.  I think we may need to change the location of our garden.  I love the heirlloms though, they are really good.

TerriC
by Bronze Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:38 AM

 We planted Roma's this year and only got 3.  =-(


Quoting batjmom:

I should be!
I love tomatoes from the garden. They have the best taste.
I have cherry tomatoes, Roma and one other kind I can't seem to remember growing in my garden


 

batjmom
by Sarah on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Oh no. I've only picked about 3 so far and they were the size of cherry tomatoes:). But the plants are full of green. I'll have to take a picture. I'm going to have too many come next month

Quoting TerriC:

 We planted Roma's this year and only got 3.  =-(




Quoting batjmom:

I should be!
I love tomatoes from the garden. They have the best taste.
I have cherry tomatoes, Roma and one other kind I can't seem to remember growing in my garden



 

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