What are Heirloom Tomatoes?

Have you ever tasted¬†an heirloom tomato? If not, you are in for a real treat! If all you’ve ever eaten was those standard red hydroponic tomatoes you get in the grocery store you are missing out on a tasty, complex mouthful of luxury!

I remember the first time I tasted an heirloom tomato. I was making a romantic dinner for my fiance so went to the fancy health food grocer in the area. The produce department had been thoroughly picked through so the only tomatoes that were left were the organic heirloom tomatoes. They were 2 times the cost of regular tomatoes and were so ugly! They were all different colors, bumps in the wrong places and some of them were scarred from cracking. I was poor at the time so had not been buying organics either. Come to find out organic tomatoes also have a better taste as well. The person working there saw me debating whether or not to buy the tomatoes and assured me I needed to try them. In the end my romantic dinner was a hit because the flavor was amazing!

So, what is the difference between heirloom tomatoes besides appearance and taste? Heirlooms are grown from seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation and grow true to the way they were years ago. Some older than 100 years! Newer tomato seeds have been hybridized, or modified, so that the plants produce more, attractive fruit and are resistant to diseases. It’s the best way to feed a lot of people but the focus was not on taste. So heirloom tomatoes are higher priced for good reason. The plants produce fewer of them for the same amount of work.

Heirloom tomatoes come in an array of colors including red, brown, purplish, orange, yellow and green. Some even come with one color as a base with a starburst of a different color on the top. The darker colored tomatoes in the picture are called Purple Cherokee. They also come in all sizes, including small cherry. Good news for people with heartburn problems…… green and yellow heirlooms are lower in acid.

So if you haven’t tried an heirloom tomato yet, give it a try! It may end up being an addiction!