It’s all about the flavor! Heirlooms are prized for their outstanding flavor and their unique colors. They are not prized for uniformity, nor for their ability to be packed easily into tidy boxes, and they don’t have a shelf life of a typical supermarket red slicer. These luscious, often misshapen tomatoes need a different approach.
Heirloom vegetables are old, open-pollinated varieties that have been passed down from generation to generation. Pre-industrial farming depended entirely on seed saving by farmers and gardeners. Those seeds were traded, shared, bought and sold regionally and their existence today makes them something of an artifact. They are also keys to a biodiversity almost lost.
Heirlooms from the pre-industrial United States are usually defined as cultivars that have been passed down from 50-150 years ago. If you look at Native American seeds, you are looking at varieties that may be over 400 years-old, or to other nations like Asia or African, seeds trace their ancestries back many hundreds of year.
Some things to Note about Heirloom Tomatoes:
- They may be juicier than you expect!
- They will have give and softness when they are ripe and ready to be eaten.
- The tomato flesh is dense, not hollow
- You may need to trim off the green shoulders.
- Carving them may take different angles than a typical slicer.
Enjoy them and explore the options!