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Fresh Heir

By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Posted On Sep 26, 2016
Fresh Heir

Ugly is the new pretty (delicious). Multicolored, gnarly-skinned heirloom variety tomatoes may grab the spotlight for their oddball aesthetic, but it’s their natural sweet taste that will win your healthy heart. These bygone treasures contain all four major carotenoids (alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene), are rich in potassium, and are best eaten simply: sliced with a little coarse salt on top.

Family Heirlooms

Classified for their seeds that have been passed through several generations, treat these antique toms reverently by enjoying them all on their own. Ask your local farmer at the greenmarket to slice a family heirloom in half for you and eat it as you would eat a fresh peach.

Commercial Heirlooms
Tomato varieties of commercial heirlooms have been in circulation for more than 50 years. These are “open-pollinated,” meaning the seeds will generally breed true without much cross pollination. When baking fish, try adding some slices drizzled with oil to add zip to a ho-hum white fillet.

Mystery Heirlooms
Ah, the good, ol’ tomatoes of yesteryear, grown organically with their shape, color, and ultimate taste left to the whims of natural cross pollination. With their unusual colors and forms, nothing is more fun (or delicious) than building a tower of different shaped tomatoes interspersed with mozzarella and basil. Drizzle first-press olive oil and aged balsamic over the top for an instant conversation piece at any dinner party.

Created Heirlooms
This is a process of crossing known parent tomatoes that are either two heirloom seeds or one heirloom and one hybrid seed. The resulting seed is known to take eight years or more to become its own individual heirloom tomato. Place a slice over a frozen puff pastry round, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and bake according to the puff pastry instructions on the packet.