Is it pronounced toMAto or tomAHto? Is it a fruit or a vegetable? There are so many questions when it comes to tomatoes! But there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: the taste of a fresh garden tomato is no comparison to store-bought tomatoes that were picked unripe and traveled thousands of miles to their destination.
There are over 25,000 different varieties of tomatoes, making it very difficult to pick one out of a seed catalog! However, heirloom tomatoes have gained a lot of traction, even when their odd shape and different colors have them looking a bit “weird” compared to regular tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are grown from saved seeds that are at least 50 years old, and they are open-pollinated, which means they are pollinated naturally by birds, bees, or the way the wind blows. They are grown for flavor, not to fit a perfectly red, round frame that you find at the supermarket. Heirloom tomatoes tend to be sweeter and juicier than a regular tomato. Expect heirloom tomatoes to have a softer texture and with it, a shorter shelf-life. Store them at room temperature for 1-2 days and away from direct sunlight.
Use heirloom tomatoes much like you would regular tomatoes, though, they are wonderful as the star in a dish. For example, a tomato salad with fresh herbs, ricotta cheese, and vinaigrette really allow the tomatoes to shine. Enjoy the simplicity of them on a lettuce salad or on top of a toasted baguette. Blend them into a gazpacho (a delicious cold soup) or layer them on top of a pizza. Heirloom tomatoes may be safely canned as you would regular varieties. Be sure to correctly acidify the tomatoes by following the USDA guidelines outlined on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. Oh, and fun fact: tomatoes are technically a fruit, but we eat them like a vegetable!
Cool Cucumber Tomato Salsa (Printable PDF)
1 cup cucumber, seeded, peeled and diced
¼ cup red onion, chopped
¾ cup Roma tomatoes, diced
½ Tablespoon jalapeno peppers, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
Juice of ½ a lime
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate and use within 3-4 days.
Yield: about 2 cups, ½ cup each
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 20 calories, 0 grams fat, 160 milligrams sodium, 4 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein