LOS ANGELES, July 26, 2014 – Heirloom Tomatoes are tomatoes where seeds have been passed down from generation to generation. The heirloom tomato is a tomato with an irregular shape, may have large brown cracks on the skin, and comes in a rainbow of colors. They run anywhere from $1 to $6 a piece and are worth every penny.
Here are some tips to make sure your heirlooms are as good as they can be:
Buy: Heirloom tomatoes should be soft yet firm. These tomatoes can be confusing to buy because unlike other tomatoes that you’re use to seeing in the grocery store, heirlooms have large brown spots on them that hard to the touch. These hard spots do not mean the tomato is bad, some breeds of heirlooms have large brown spots than others.
Store: Tomatoes should be stored growing side down in a cool area out of the sun. Only refrigerate your tomatoes after you cut them. However, they’re best if you cut and eat them right away. The exception to this rule is if you’re serving them for a party.
Prepare: Wash under cold water, pat dry, and cut the tomato into wedges or slices. Wedges sometimes work with tomatoes that are strange shapes.
Acidity Level:Tomatoes range in taste from sweet +3 to sour -3 and a perfect tomato is 0. Heinz Ketchup uses a 0 tomato so that they always know how to season it.
Tomato tricks: Have your tomatoes cracked during their car ride home, no problem try soaking them in salted water overnight and the cracks will seal and the tomato will become firm again. You will need to use the tomato within the next couple of days, but at least it saves you from having to throw it away.
Best Heirlooms to grow at home:
- Cherry tomatoes are the toughest species with more give and are harder to kill.
- Middle of the road hybrids- Better Boy and Sweet Tangerine
- Three heirlooms- Jaune Flame, Gardeners Delight, German heirlooms
- Red cherry tomato Nyugu- chocolate insides
- Good Buys-pineapple, Kellogg’s breakfast, any reds, Noir de crimee, and Paul Robeson
Health Benefits: Tomatoes can Aid digestion, strengthens your stomach, can be a diuretic, it can give energy and they’re loaded with vitamin C and Potassium
And here is a favorite recipe combining fresh and flavorful tomatoes with creamy, sweet Burratta cheese!
Heirloom Tomato and Burratta Salad
3-4 servings Total time: 15 minutes
3-4 large heirloom tomatoes, 3 large slices per tomato
2-3 small heirloom tomatoes, wedged
1 ½ cups of arugula
1 pkg buffalo mozzarella or burrata, quartered
10 basil leaves
Good olive oil
¼ sherry wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Burrata: Remove the Burrata from the container and cut it seem side up into 4 pieces (make sure you use a sharp knife).
Large tomatoes: Heirloom tomatoes are very awkward in shape and size. Therefore they can be difficult to cut. The easiest way to cut them is in large round pieces. Cut the growing end off and then continue cutting in parallel cuts all the way down the tomato.
Small tomatoes: Cut the growing end off and then cut the tomatoes into wedges. Put the cut tomatoes into a medium mixing bowl.
Shallots: Cut the top and bottom of the shallot off. Then remove the peel. The shallot will then split into two cloves. One of which will still have another peel on it, so go ahead and remove that one as well. Use your knife to make long slices along the veins of the shallot and then make horizontal cuts creating a dice on the shallot. Set aside.
Dressing: In a small sauté pan add a ½ tablespoon of oil and sauté the shallot. When the shallot is glossy and aromatic add the sherry vinegar and reduce by half. Then whisk in the rest of the oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Salad: Toss small heirloom wedges with the arugula, dressing, salt and pepper.
Then place 3 slices of the large heirloom on each plate, the Burrata, and then pour over the small heirloom wedges and dressing.
Chiffonaded (cut in thin strips) basil is a perfect garnish with cracked black pepper. If you want to add an extra touch of elegance you can pick the small basil leaf clusters at the top of each stem and put it on the plate as well.
Burrata is a very soft Italian cheese that has a skin on the outside and a milky creamy inside.