Comments: Who Wants Some Old Tomatoes?


That big furry one in the back looks like it's off.

We enjoyed heirlooms as a big part of one of our lunches in Seattle. We bought weird looking tomatoes of several varieties and a travel knife, and picnicked later that day by the Olympic coastline.

No photos? No names? Did you think you were on holiday or something?? Honestly...

Heirloom tomatoes - mmmm. I live on them between late June and October. I live in the SF Bay fogbelt so I must buy mine at the market, trucked in from Real Tomato country.

Brandywines are my favorite - they are big and deep rose. I don't know what it would be in French. Marvel Stripe - yellow striped with red, turning redder as riper - are next. But I like eating most of them, and love most of the names.

Charlotte - this was my first foray into the heirloom selection but I'm going to try to get back to the market this weekend and try some of the other varieties. I love the idea of resuscitating old strains and certainly they all seem to have more flavor and interest than the usual toms. It's a great trend and I'm glad there are so many people out there supporting it!!

Meg, I seem to recall that the heirloom phenomenon only got out of backyards into the markets in the last decade or so in the US. (This may be different in France where I understand "old fashioned" varieties with good taste have had more of a commercial chance.) Twenty years ago I regularly shopped at the Farmer's Market in Davis, California, which is in the heart of tomato-growing country, and it was pretty much Early Girls all the way at the market in summer. Mind you, EG is a very tasty variety when it is really ripe, but even a yellow cherry tomato was pretty unusual.

When I started shopping at the Berkeley Farmer's Market in the late nineties, they were all over in season. I was completely stunned by the sight (it regularly stops visitors in their tracks) and the taste was like the home-grown and farm-stand wonders of my Sacramento Valley childhood. I was hooked.

I have seen mention of heirlooms in a number of my cooking magazines so I have to assume that this is not just because I live in Left Coast Foodie Heaven. I am even starting to see greenhouse grown varieties in my exceptional produce market way out of season (like, in January) but I think that is just wrong so won't buy them.

That was quite a display of tomatoes, and the stall holder (farmer?) should be pleased with them. I keep my tomatoes in a glass dish on the table where I can see them and admire their colors and curves.

When you get beyond the Tomato-Sandwich and Tomato-Salad stage, I commend the Bread Salad recipe on my blog to your attention:

(link may wrap but it is in a "recipe post" section on the main page sidebar - thanks to you at TMC for that idea!)

you are so right about the heirloom tomatoes. They do have strange shapes which our visitors called "they've come through an attack by greenfly - ohh nohh, did you spray them, are they safe to eat"...
This year was the first time we have seen them for sale and have bought several of these 'unknown' varieties.
The ones we have grown came from the 'personal farmer's garden' section at our local farmers' cooperative.

We are pleased to find that they have the most delicious flavours. The pineapple tomato is our favourite. We cut it into cubes that don't fall apart or go all fludgy-mushy in a mixed salad, put them sliced on bread-and-butter, or cook them filled with grapes in the (microwave) oven to have a pleasant 'sweet' vegetable with spicey roast chicken or even as a hot desert.

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