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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

Heirloom Tomatoes: The Way Tomatoes Are Supposed To Taste

Heirloom Tomatoes

The taste of any simple tomato-based salad is dependent on the quality of the tomatoes.

~ Chef Yotam Ottolenghi

When I was a kid, my mom would make simple tomato salads all summer long – sliced tomatoes fresh from the farm stands, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of salt, and sometimes pepper.

There is really nothing like a fresh tomato salad. Especially these days — literally. I had a tomato in a diner salad just yesterday, and it was absolutely rancid. We talk about the health implications of factory farmed, strip mined GMO vegetables and fruits. But the real crime is the fact that everyday tomatoes taste bitter, insipid and nasty.

However, the tomatoes I find in the farmers markets are as wonderful as the ones my mom used to buy. You don’t even have to buy heirloom varieties – the fat New Jersey beefsteaks are fabulous too because they are grown by farmers who care as much about flavor as healthfulness.

There is something special about heirloom tomatoes though. Maybe it is the colors and stripes. It is definitely the flavors. We picked up this group of heirloom tomatoes at the Union Square Greenmarket last week, and they were all marvelous. You can imagine what a pretty salad they made.

To be honest, I’m not sure what all of these varieties are, but I do recognize the green zebra, black zebra, purple Russian and sunray. If you know what any of them are, please feel free to let me know in a comment.

Enjoy the season!

~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City



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