Dietitian Guide to Heirloom Tomatoes

Dietitian Guide to Heirloom Tomatoes

Get everything you need to know about heirloom tomatoes, including nutritional benefits, tips, and recipes in this guide.

What are heirloom tomatoes?

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. 

Nutritional benefits

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. 

How to select heirloom tomatoes

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:

  • blemish-free
  • feel heavy for their size
  • firm with a little give when pressed

How to store

For optimal flavor, store them at room temperature and eat within a few days of purchase.

How to use in cooking and baking

Dietitian Guide to Heirloom Tomatoes

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. 

My favorite use for them is my simple heirloom tomato and burrata salad.

However, cooking can also bring out more of their natural sweetness.

Slice and add them to frittatas or quiches, add them to pizzas, or chop and saute them with garlic for a simple pasta topping. 

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

Here you’ll find realistic healthy recipes designed by a registered dietitian with your busy lifestyle in mind.

Whether you’re a busy professional or new mom, the goal of The Healthy Toast is to provide you with the recipes and nutrition info you need to live your healthiest life, even when life gets crazy. As I’m a firm believer in a whole-foods, non-diet approach, I hope my website shows that good nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. 

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