What makes a tomato an Heirloom Tomato? In any fruit or vegetable species, these are older breeds that have been consciously collected and preserved instead of disappearing from our food landscape. Seeds are collected and planted each year, so their DNA is not manipulated for mass production. They are not bred for easy transport or uniformity, often at the expense of flavor, and are left to be their quirky, unique ‘selves’.
We love Heirloom tomatoes for their array of vibrant colors, unique shapes, thin skin, juicy flesh and tons of flavor. For those of a certain age, Heirloom Tomato varieties taste the way that all tomatoes once tasted. They are captivating and delicious – a feast for the senses!
All Heirloom Tomatoes are not created equal, however. As with any other popular item, there are impostors, flavorless but colorful tomatoes bred to look like Heirlooms. Knowing where and how your tomatoes are grown is key to avoiding disappointment.
All Heirloom tomatoes carried by Oliver’s are of top quality, but when locally grown Heirlooms are coming only a few miles to market during their peak season, we are thrilled to bring our customers the best of the best to enjoy!
Meet the Heirlooms
Within the Heirloom tomato category are countless varieties. We have clustered some of the most popular types by color in this chart, along with some notes on their outstanding characteristics. Within the world of Heirlooms, you will find that there is diversity in the areas of flesh to seed ratio; flavor, which can range from mild to bold and from earthy to tropical; as well as the balance or acidity and ‘sweetness’. The average size, color, skin thickness, and ease of slicing also vary among the types.
Heirloom Tomato Selection and Enjoyment
When you purchase your Heirlooms, touch them gently to assess ripeness. If you plan to use them the same day, opt for slightly soft selections; if you are keeping them for a day on your counter, you can select slightly firmer tomatoes. Room temperature is best for these beauties, but if you must refrigerate them, allow time for a return to room temperature before serving.
Heirloom tomatoes are best enjoyed with simple enhancements, which allow for their full beauty and flavor to shine. Whether you try a simple Heirloom Tomato Burrata Salad, a Classic Local Heirloom Tomato BLT Sandwich, our velvety Gazpacho, or our simple and flavorful Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta, deliciousness awaits! To this delicious collection of recipes, we are adding Heirloom Tomato Salsa, Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Galette, and a Hassleback Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad. If that all sounds like too much, or you just want to cut to the chase, simply eat out of hand or slice and serve with Kosher salt and cracked pepper, and perhaps a bit of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.
Have more Heirlooms than you can eat, or want to enjoy their deliciousness long after the season has passed? Don’t forget that these delicious tomatoes can be dehydrated or frozen, and canned as sauce or whole tomatoes, or salsa. They are versatile and preserve-able!
Local Heirloom Tomato season will come and go before you know it, so plan to take advantage of this delicious bounty ASAP!