Photo by GRACELINKS on flickr

Heirloom Tomatoes

Marvel at over a hundred varieties of heirloom   tomatoes and feast your eyes and your palette on nature’s delicious harvest, all the while reveling in their unique names! Black Brandywine, Goliath, Sun Gold, Black Plum, Marianna’s Peace, German Giant, Banana Legs, Big Rainbow, Aunt Gertie’s Gold, Box Car Willie, Cherokee Purple, Daydream, Great White, Green Zebra, Louisiana Pink, Missouri Pink Love Apple, Nebraska Wedding…

The popularity of these old fashioned tomatoes has blossomed in recent years due to their refreshing flavor, texture, and crazy colors, but also because of their organic origins. To be certified heirloom, these tomatoes have to be grown from seed that has produced the same variety of tomato for at least fifty years, and they must be certified organic   by a recognized USDA organization.

They have to be grown outside and pollinated, and they cannot be hybrid tomatoes, as is the case with store bought varieties of red tomatoes where seeds are cross pollinated to toughen their resistance to parasites and lengthen their shelf life. Although they blemish and spoil much quicker than factory produced hybrid tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes are worth the effort - you will be rewarded as soon as you sink your teeth into this delicious fruit!

Heirloom tomato seeds have been handed down from generations of tomato growers whose love of these tomatoes has been shared with their neighbors and communities. Their names tell the tale of their origins and the people who have grown them. Their variety has increased their popularity in the commercial market as foodies strive to bring their old fashioned flavors back onto dinner plates across the country.

The redder the tomato, the sweeter it is. Darker colored tomatoes are generally a nice mixture between sweet and tart, such as the purple and black varieties, and the green and
white ones are more bitter. Prized for their organic origins, antioxidants, vitamins, and cancer preventing agents, integrate their rainbow of colors and tastes into your next dish!

Here are some popular varieties of heirloom tomatoes and some quick and easy ways to prepare them:

For more information, check out Dr. Carolyn Male et al.’s "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden," Workman Publishing, 1999.

To buy seeds:

Golden Harvest Organics

Heirloom Varieties

Tomato Fest

footnotes