Deep Fried Dictionary: Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes: SPECIAL varieties of tomatoes; worldwide

Heirloom tomato, from whence came your indescribable lumps, your infallible rainbow??

Nowadays, whether you like it or not, we have factory farms and all of this business. Unless you’re a tomato historian (which I’m not), you probably didn’t even know that there used to be innumerable varieties of tomatoes that you’d see all the time. Now we have much fewer, only a relative handful of our ancestors’ tomato harvest! Industrial Revolution, everything got standardized, blah blah blah and here we are.

Today, many heirloom plants come from seeds that are OLD and are literally heirlooms that someone saved because they were such fine specimens. Many varieties are/were originally created by “open pollination,” which is basically bees or the wind carrying pollen from one type of plant over to the flower of a different type, making a kind of crossbreed.

HOWEVER, almost all “hybrid” plants will regrow differently than the original one. Like if two parents have a second child, its genetic makeup will not be the same as the first. But these brother and sister tomatoes are not heirlooms because for some reason that I still don’t entirely understand, heirlooms will always be finite and the same. I’m doing my best here.

People grow heirloom tomatoes for purposes of taste, hobby, environmental concern, curiosity or any other personal or professional reason.

So there is hopefully your TINY slice of history/science of the birth of heirloom tomatoes.

Availability: ONLY available during your region’s tomato season since they aren’t mass produced to ship to Massachusetts in the winter etc. Common at farmer’s markets, not that common in grocery stores barring Whole Foods-type ones as pictured here.

Recipe to try: Heirloom Tomato Panini from Panini Happy Most people like to keep their heirloom tomatoes pure and delicious

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About Jen Cantin

Follow Jen Cantin on Twitter if you have nothing better to do! Wouldn’t want to impose… Two cats and three times more ‘tude than the leading car insurance provider.
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