Tomatoes are officially here, in all of their juicy, brightly-colored glory! Read below to clear up the confusion on some of tomato terms after a rundown on my plan for what to do with our CSA veggies next week.
- 1.5 lbs. of Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes or 2 lbs. of Potatoes – I want to grill pizza again since we haven't in a while, and it will be so pretty!
- 1 lb. Red Tomatoes – Going in an experimental tomato/chard/chickpea/miso recipe.
- 1/2 pint of Cherry Tomatoes or 1 bunch of Carrots – My acupuncturist/friend/boss generously gave me a bag of her own garden's cherry tomatoes, so I don't need those (they're going in my lunch salad). AND my farm now has multicolored carrots - purple, yellow + traditional orange! (Did you know purple carrots are actually the oldest type of carrot? Got that tidbit from one of the farmers yesterday. I love it there.)
- 1 Red Onion or 1 Slicing Cucumber – Cucumber for my greek salad lunches
- 1 bunch of Swiss Chard or 1 Eggplant – The chard came with me as my CSA and I paid for eggplants separately, because I wanted both! (Chard is going in the recipe experiment; eggplant is going with tomatoes and lentils to freeze ahead for future.)
Tomato, Tomahto... Let's clear up the confusion.
WHAT'S AN HEIRLOOM?! Heirlooms are generally defined to be seeds that have been passed down through generations because of it's valued characteristics (ie. pretty colors, flavor, shape, etc.) Usually they are at least 50 years old, tend to remain stable in their qualities from one year to the next, but depending on the variety, may be less resistant to pests, cracking, etc than more common "regular" tomatoes. True heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated, which means they’re pollinated by insects or wind without human intervention. Unfortunately, there have been liberties taken with this definition due to their increasing popularity, but when I'm get them from a farm I trust, I feel confident about it.
Some of the tomato rainbow:
- Green Zebra - not super old, but it is an open-pollinated tomato, and has a distinct green + striped look, with great flavor
- Speckled Roman - a pretty-looking-plum tomato with meaty flesh; my farmer recommends making salsa with them
- Costoluto Genovese + Zapotec - both are heavily-ribbed tomatoes
- Black Velvet - actually more of a purpley color, with nice firm flesh
- Golden Jubilee - probably one of my favorites - such great texture + bright yellow color
GRAPE VS CHERRY (TOMATOES) First, the seemingly obvious: grape tomatoes are oblong and shaped like grapes; cherry tomatoes are rounder and shaped more like cherries. Now for the less obvious...grape tomatoes aren't as sweet, and their flesh is meatier and less watery. Grape tomatoes are almost always red, cherry tomatoes come in more colors such as orange and yellow. If you're cooking with them, say to make a sauce for pasta, grape tomatoes are better because they have a thicker skin; cherry tomatoes are better raw or just slightly cooked.