Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tomato Mania

Growing up I remember all tomatoes seemed exceedingly red and ripe. Often they needed nothing more than to be sliced and sprinkled with salt. I have always loved tomatoes, and love them even more since I've discovered the many varieties available. Being in the heart of tomato season, you've likely stumbled upon bins of orange, greed, red, purple, and multicolored heirlooms. Each has distinctive qualities that should be celebrated. Seek out a Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, or Ida Gold. I suppose there could be commercially produced variations, but for the most part you'll find the treasures labeled "heirloom."

An heirloom variety is one that has retained its integrity over time, meaning that it has not been hybridized, but is a seed stock that has been maintained over time. Some say the the seeds must remain the same for over 100 years. All I know is that if eaten ripe, there will be no disappointment. For those of you who haven't experienced the richness that embodies a heirloom variety of produce, seek it out, you'll be surprised at the rich flavors.

For the last few weeks my kitchen has been inundated with many of the varieties mentioned above. A few great ways to go through them are: make a caprese salad with fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella (in the photo above), chop and add garlic and olive oil for a quick fresh pasta sauce, add to a salad, or just salt and eat as you would an apple. Don't just take my word for the greatness of heirloom tomatoes, check out how other bloggers wax poetic on the subject: Matt Bites, The Amateur Gourmet, Albion Cooks. Who wouldn't love an heirloom tomato smack dab in the peak of the season?