We grew several varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Learn about these classic tomatoes including seed sources and tomato recipes..
By Barbara Bowman - GourmetSleuth
Article by: Barbara Bowman
Heirloom tomatoes have become increasingly popular over the last few years. A heirloom tomato is simply one which has not been hybridized. There are hundreds of varieties; many of which can be found in your local farmer's market.
In the past I grew varieties most familiar to me like Celebrity, Early Girl, Malata (a pear style tomato) and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. This year we adopted some orphan heirloom tomato plants from a family friend. Each plant was identified so we were able to look them up online and have some idea what we might be growing.
We have fallen in love with some of these new-old tomatoes and found a few we'll replace with our previous old favorites.
Pictured here is the beautiful Texas Star tomato. It's so pretty; it almost looks like a peach! The flavor is delicate but noticeably a tomato (some didn't taste great). Read more about this variety and several others below.
The orphan tomatoes were a lot of fun and there are a few new varieties to add to my "favorites". I'll probably continue to grow my old-faithfuls with a sprinkling of some "new-old" tomatoes too.
Favorite Summer Tomato Recipe
Fresh, home-grown tomatoes are so special that I try to make simple preparations that highlight the colors and flavor. My favorite of all recipe is a simple Bruschetta (pronounced BREW-sket-TAH). This little appetizer is easy to make and variations abound. Here is my version.
12 slices sour dough French bread cut into 1/4" slices
2 cups chopped fresh, ripe tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half lenghtwise
1/4 cup fresh basil; julienned
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (this is a time to use the good stuff)
Additional olive oil for basting bread
Preheat oven broiler to 400F
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, chopped garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix gently until combined. Set aside.
Arrange bread slices on a cookie sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil. Take a garlic clove half and rub across the top of each bread slice to infuse the oils from the garlic into the bread.
Place bread slices in oven at least 4 - 6" from broiler element. Broil until slices are nicely browned but watch carefully so they don't burn.
When the slices are browned remove from oven. Divide tomato mixture evenly and top each slice. Serve immediately so the "toasts" don't get soggy.Tips
- Mix up the tomato varieties for fun color variations.
- Top each with a small anchovy
- Top each with a small amount of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese then return to broiler until cheese melts.
Here is a list of other heirloom tomatoes along with descriptions and sources for purchasing seeds.