Summer time brings a bounty of good things to eat, as you probably can tell by all the farmers markets popping up. One thing that we can look forward to in August is tomatoes.
As a native New Jersey girl, I will always hold a fond memory of Jersey tomatoes.....red, luscious, full of flavor and overly abundant. But I live a bit further north these days, and rely on my local farms. Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes, from grape to cherry, plum to beefsteak. And then there are those funny looking heirloom tomatoes. Weird colors, odd shapes, not the perfectly round red orbs we have come to expect. But don't pass them up!
Heirloom merely means that the seeds are passed down generation to generation - no modifications, GMOs or weird science. Just good old fashioned seeds. There are over 100 varieties (some say more than 700) of heirloom tomatoes, including such unique names as Green Zebra, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Amish Paste, Cherokee Purple, White Wonder, and Black Krim. They come in a wide range of colors, from yellow to neon green, purple, reds, oranges and striped. The reds are more acidic, while the yellows have a bit more sugar to them and a mellower flavor. They range in size from a blueberry to an 8 pound mammoth.
The colors are gorgeous in a salad, and add interest to the every day meal. You can use heirlooms as you would any tomato, but I recommend letting their color come thru in a raw application. They do make a gorgeous tart too - pretty enough for any dinner party. Check out this recipe for a tomato tart.
Not sure which one to buy? A helpful guide can be found at http://www.greenmarketrecipes.com/tomatoes/types_of_heirloom_tomatoes.htm. and http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/exotic-vegetable-glossary7.asp#heirloom