Now that the summer harvest is upon us, the tomato bounty is here as well. Exactly how old are heirloom tomatoes? What is an heirloom tomato? I brought along a few today, and you can see that they’re a little lumpy. They’re different colors, but boy oh boy, do they taste great!
What are the types of heirloom tomatoes?
There are four classifications.
- There’s commercial heirlooms, which is typically thought to be a seed strain introduced to production prior to 1940. This is the vast majority of what we see available and typically the most abundant.
- There’s family heirloom, which is exactly what it sounds like. A family farm may hold onto a few rows of tomatoes every year, propagating that seed strain, and passing it down to successive generations. Truly a family heirloom.
- There’s created heirlooms, which is where we cross-pollinate two varieties. It could be two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid variety. We allow these to grow over successive generations, eliminating the undesirable traits. This often takes eight to ten years.
- Then there’s the best one of all, they’re the mystery heirlooms, which by, literally, we have no clue how they came into being. Could be a wild variety, but boy, we’re glad they did.
There are hundreds of varieties of heirlooms grown with some great names…
Purple Cherokee, Mortgage Lifter, Golden Jubilee, Pineapple, the Peach Tomato, the Brandywine. They all taste different, but they all taste wonderful.
Fun Fact: typically,the yellow varieties are sweeter.
The darker they heirloom tomato, the more acidity to it. Consider using heirlooms sliced thinly with a little bit of Burrata cheese. Makes for an incredible summer carpaccio salad.
Content provided by Daniel Snowden, the Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida. He has been in the produce industry years almost 20 years, and loves getting geeky about food. Follow FreshPoint Central Florida on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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