Get everything you need to know about heirloom tomatoes, including nutritional benefits, tips, and recipes in this guide.
Heirloom tomatoes are the result of farmers planting the seeds from their best tomatoes the season before. This allows them to pick and choose more desirable traits, such as flavor, juiciness, size, shape and color.
However, they can also grow from seeds that are pollinated naturally by birds, insects, and wind.
Since heirloom tomatoes can come from a variety of tomato species, there isn’t one uniform taste, texture, or even color.
This is why they can make even the simplest of recipes more interesting visually and flavor-wise than one made with standard tomatoes.
Nutritionally, heirloom tomatoes can vary greatly by species.
However, in general they are all good sources of vitamin C, iron, potassium, vitamin A, and lycopene – an antioxidant associated with decreased risk of certain cancers, particularly skin cancer.
The term “heirloom” isn’t regulated.
As a result, some farms, especially larger ones, may use the term “heirloom” to hide the fact that the tomatoes are actually grown from genetically modified seeds or from less-than-desirable growing practices.
The best way to ensure flavorful heirloom tomatoes is by buying locally, ideally from a farmer’s market or from a store that sources locally grown produce.
As with other tomatoes, look for ones that are:
For optimal flavor, store them at room temperature and eat within a few days of purchase.
The best way to enjoy heirloom tomatoes in all their juicy glory is eating them raw.
Tossed in olive oil and balsamic they make for a delicious salad or topper for crispy bread slices. They can also be sliced and added to wraps, sandwiches or burgers.
However, cooking can also bring out more of their natural sweetness.
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