WHAT IS AN HEIRLOOM TOMATO?
Unfortunately use of the term “heirloom”, much like the word “gourmet”, has been abused to the point of false advertising. Heirloom was originally a term coined by a professor at the University of New Hampshire in the 1940s. It referred to seeds that had been passed down from farmer to farm as a result of outdoor open pollination (bees for example). Today there are 2 basic types of heirlooms, classic seeds that have been passed down since the 1940s and hybrids of these classics. In general they are uglier, more expensive, have a shorter shelf life and are tastier then the commercial varieties in stores today. They are also more genetically diverse then current G.M.O. crops.
WHY ARE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES GOOD FOR YOU?
Like most tomatoes, they are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate and lycopene. The latter tends to be present in higher amounts when your heirlooms are organically grown. However some people are allergic to tomatoes so be careful if you feel discomfort after eating this fruit / vegetable.
WHEN ARE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES IN SEASON?
Because of their genetic diversity there is some flexibility to when they’re harvested. But in general they’re a late summer crop (July to August north of the equator, January to February down south).
HOW SHOULD HEIRLOOM TOMATOES BE STORED?
While the following general rules apply, remember heirlooms are more fragile and perishable then industrial tomatoes. If you buy them unripened, do not refrigerate your heirlooms. Store them in your home at room temperature while they’re still ripening. But make sure to remove the stem and place them upside down. Remember that as they continue to ripen, tomatoes will bruise more easily (if you stack them up). Once your red fruits / vegetables / whatever have ripened, store them in your refrigerator (to slow their descent into spoilage). Also keep your tomatoes out of direct sunlight.
WHAT IS THE PROPER WAY TO CONCASSER AN HEIRLOOM TOMATO?
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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HYBRID AND A HEIRLOOM TOMATO?
The differences are not rigidly defined, but basically hybrids are more suited to industrial applications being mass produced. Heirlooms are the more fragile ugly ducklings that are better at delivering delicious flavor to your mouth! Click here for a better explanation!