Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TomAYto – TomAHto

Heirloom Tomatoes
By Jo Gryfe (Official NIM Blogger)

Sometimes shopping for tomatoes can make you feel as if you are lost in a technicolour dreamcoat of variety. At their summertime peak, these delicious ruby bulbs dress up in yellow and orange or shrink down to the bite-size of a grape or cherry. 

But perhaps the most coveted member of the tomato family is the heirloom tomato; with radiant colors and unique shapes, it is as if Mother Nature showed up on your plate as the Betsey Johnson of produce.

Usually quadruple the price of standard tomatoes, these disfigured jewels have become a staple in elegant first courses and gourmet dining. As a result of this elevation to gastronomic superstardom, many people are beginning to ask what is so fantastic about this uber chic fruit.

In Heirloom 101, the most important thing to understand is that these tomatoes are cultivated through open pollination. This basically means that in order to grow these delicious treasures, you have to throw your farming to the wind…literally. All pollination is carried out through natural carriers such as birds, insects, and gusty winds. Since this form of pollination is uncontrollable, various genetic traits are adopted en route- picked up from wherever the carrier travels- resulting in the vibrant and incredibly unique collection of heirloom tomatoes available today.

This return to natural farming practices allows the bold and refreshing flavor of produce undisturbed by harsh chemicals to explode on your taste buds. It is also important to keep in mind that the color of the tomato represents a varied level of acidity and sweetness. In other words, a yellow heirloom (such as the Garden Peach) is very sweet with the lowest acid levels of all the varieties, while a purple tomato (such as a Cherokee Purple) has a deeper, woodsier flavor due to its higher acid levels. Aside from the taste, the vast spectrum of colors and sizes of heirloom tomatoes transforms a delicious salad into pure eye candy.

So in these last few days of summer, go to your local farmers market or good quality supermarket, and treat yourself and your family to these jewels of summer!


2bhealthy said...

This is a very interesting article. I didn't know that about heirloom tomatoes! Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Where do Canadian tomatoes come from? Are they grown locally?