What is an “Heirloom” Tomato?
“Heirloom” tomatoes are from plants grown from seeds that have been passed down from season to season for 50 years or more. They are “open-pollinated” by air, bugs, and bees. Because of this, you can save seeds from heirloom tomatoes, and plant them next year, and you will grow the same variety of tomatoes. As opposed to “hybrid” tomatoes, which are the product of cross-breeding two different types of plants to create a desirable plant. The pollination of hybrid plants is controlled by isolating varieties. Because of this, if you save seeds from a hybrid tomato and plant them next year, you will not get the same variety of tomatoes.
Both heirloom and hybrid tomatoes are delicious and good for you! Both can be grown organically or conventionally. Sometimes you may find that heirloom varieties are more unique, come in different shapes and colors, and are more delicate- as they have not been bred to produce uniform fruits that can withstand transport.
How to Make the Most of Local Tomatoes
- -If you can enjoy them in the next two days, look for ripe fruits starting to soften.
- -If you will be enjoying them later in the week, look for more firm fruits with green on them.
- -For best flavor and texture, store them in their carton or a bowl on your countertop, not in the refrigerator. Check for fruitflies and mold daily.
- -Not a canner? Whole raw tomatoes can be frozen in a sealed bag or container to be cooked in rustic sauces and soups later on.