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Heirloom Tomatoes: Unique, Intense and Naturally Gorgeous

Heirloom tomatoes are here! Our stores are bursting with all of their gorgeous hues and wildly different shapes. From teensy little cherry heirlooms to hefty, rippling beefsteaks with colors that range from the palest yellows to deep, dark indigo, they’re a vision that still-life paintings — or Instagram pics — are made of.

Read on to find out how you can win gorgeous tomato-themed kitchen goodies and a $50 Whole Foods Market® gift card to fill your basket with equally gorgeous heirlooms.  UPDATE: Thank you to everyone that entered. Congrats to our randomly chosen winner, Carol P.!

As tomato fans everywhere know, the unique beauty of these heirloom tomatoes is rivaled only by their outstanding, intense flavors that are varied as much as their appearance.

These delicate beauties are hand picked and hand packed so that they arrive in stores ripe and ready to be enjoyed.

Oh, and heirloom season is precious and short. If you’ve never tried an heirloom tomato, now’s your chance to see what everyone’s raving about!

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing recipe

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Here are some of our favorite heirloom tomatoes and how we like to eat them:

Cherokee Purple

  • Very large, beefsteak variety, purple or very dark red
  • Deeply flavored and rich with a firm, dense texture
  • Slice thickly and serve with brined cheeses such as feta or with a sweet drizzle of honey

Marvel Stripe

  • Large, beefsteak variety, yellow with interior blush
  • Mild, sweet and fruity with low acidity; juicy and soft
  • Wonderful for gazpacho, paired with balsamic vinegar as a tomato relish or with earthy clothbound cheddar cheese

Brandywine

  • Large, beefsteak variety, pink or yellow
  • Sweet, low-acidity, heavy “slicing” tomatoes with excellent texture
  • Perfect for sandwiches, used as the base of a fresh summer salad or paired with the creamy saltiness of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Evergreen

  • Medium to large, beefsteak variety, green
  • Mild and sweet, fruit stays green when ripe
  • Try making tomato preserves, a sandwich with triple crème Brie and baguette or breading and frying slices for fried green tomatoes

Black Prince

  • Medium-sized, round globe variety, purple or very dark red
  • Deep and sweetly flavored, firm texture
  • Sprinkle wedges with vinaigrette and fresh herbs for a simple treat; pair with Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue to match the tomato’s sweetness with a wonderful blue cheese

Sun Gold

  • Small, cherry variety, dark yellow or almost orange
  • Tangy-sweet, a fruity pop of flavor
  • Perfect for an anytime snack, tossing into quick salads, baking on pizzas and flatbreads and pairing with Parrano cheese

Black Cherry

  • Small, cherry variety, purple or dark red
  • Very sweet, highly flavored
  • Great in salads, roasting whole, baking into focaccia and pairing with Monterey Jack for a cream-of-tomato soup flavor combination

If you’re in love with heirlooms, leave a comment below by Wednesday, August 28th and tell me why you think they're such special tomatoes. We’ll pick one winner at random to receive a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card so you can fill your basket with these beauties. You'll need some lovely kitchen tools to go with all those heirlooms. The winner will also get a beautiful handmade salvaged wood cutting board from Gray Works Design on Etsy, Julia Rothman’s tomato art dish towels from Anthropologie, a wood-handled tomato knife from Williams-Sonoma, letter-pressed tomato greeting cards from Pioneer House on Etsy, and The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook. That’s a prize worth about $250!   

The time is ripe! Heirlooms are at their prime time for devouring right now, so start enjoying heirlooms every chance you get before the short peak season ends.

Tell me, why do you love heirloom tomatoes?

 

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436 comments

Comments

Giselle Laborde Sanchez says …

Heirloom tomatoes remind me of days when I was a little girl . We would go to the country to buy small farm grown produce. Always smelled and tasted so good.

j.J. says …

I love heirlooms because they are bred for taste, not looks. Plus, they do better in my garden. BTW, I love that tomato logo you have. Will it be a reusable bag in stores?

Patty Magyar says …

Oh my...why do I love heirloom tomatoes? It's a family thang! They remind me so much of my grandmother and my dad...he had row after row after row of the most beautifully staked heirlooms...he would meticulously save the seeds...and our first incredible bite of a garden heirloom on toast...the best bite ever! I seriously could and would eat them all summer long...

Kerry says …

I love Heirlooms because they instantly make any dish flavorful and beautiful!

Rebecca says …

I love the intense flavor of heirloom tomatoes. My favorites are the sun gold cherry tomatoes -- great in salads or just for a snack!

Ben says …

We love heirloom tomatoes! They taste amazing and one feels as though they are fighting off homogenization of the tomato species by supporting the heirloom tomato farmers.

Lori Curran says …

Heirloom's outstanding flavors cannot be beat . . . I tend to hoard these beauties when they're available because before you know it they'll be gone . . . one caveat, however, for maximum flavor -- never refrigerate! Cherokee purple is my favorite . . . amazing!

Phoebe Allen says …

We love heirloom tomatoes because they taste like real TOMATOES!

Arlene Levine says …

I love heirloom tomatoes because they have such marvelous flavor that the seem to be pre salted.

Kristen says …

I love heirloom tomatoes because of their appearance and their flavor. The sun golds growing in my garden provide a pop-in-my-mouth treat when I go out to work in the yard.

Jean D. says …

You say tomato, I say to-mah-to, I say I have heirloom tomatoes, you say party at MY house.

Sean says …

I enjoy heirloom tomatoes in a salad with avocados.

Chris Pabst says …

I didn't like tomatoes until I had a real heirloom tomato. I cannot get enough of them.... It's a lycopene addiction, I think.

Sheri Waters says …

The best of the BEST! hEIRLOOms!!

TomR says …

Oh my...the memories of eating heirloom tomatoes are like opening flood gates to me... Delicious salads, eating them by themselves, slathering mayo on them in sandwiches while standing over the sink eating them because they are sooooo damn juicy! Luv em!

a8ala says …

I grow them in my garden. Of course the critters know what is good too and always seem to attack the black ananas since they are the sweetest of the bunch! The juice that comes out of these is incredible.

Aparna says …

Nice article! Love heirlooms cos they look beautiful, are a quick snack and even serve as my afternoon "candy" replacement!

Anna says …

Summer distilled is the best, fresh produce and food, and heirloom tomatoes are the quintessential summer food.

Amrita says …

Heirloom tomatoes are delicious and full of flavor! They make me think of summer!

Farmer Donald says …

It is so great to see everyone getting excited about eating heirloom tomatoes. The varieties listed above are delicious. It is amazing to think that there are well over 500 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the world; grown in all colors of the rainbow, in all different shapes and sizes. Let's eat!

Barbara Baldwin says …

I love to make heirloom tomato chutney. I love a variation of a BLT, sliced evergreen tomatoes with arugula and broiled planchette on sour dough toast.

Edie Hering says …

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE heirlooms!!! The flavors and smells are remarkable!! My "this season's favorite" heirloom tomato is the Georgia Peach! I discovered that the tomatoes that fell to the ground after last year's plants were hit with frost produced tiny little plants this year. I had about 15 tiny tomato plants that I replanted and grew MORE delicious tomatoes!

Julia says …

I ADORE heirloom tomatoes! My favorite is Cherokee Purple, but any variety will do. When there is a bunch, I love to make salsa with different colors. They are how tomatoes SHOULD taste. <3

KELLI M says …

I grew up with the food from my grandparents' bountiful square-acre "city farm" full of good things like heirloom tomatoes! Back then we just called it "food." :) I sure miss it!

Amarie says …

I love heirloom tomatoes because they taste so good!

Alison says …

Heirloom tomatoes rock. They are pricey, but totally worth it for their intense delicious flavors!

Rita says …

At first I was attracted by their unique, imperfect look which gave them immediate character. After using them in several recipes and salads, I find there is no substitute for their flavor and texture.

Deborah says …

I love heirloom tomatoes for their variety of colors, shapes, sizes and flavors. They are my favorite summer produce!

Nicole says …

I love them for their unique qualities, each one is different like a snowflake! I think that where their true beauty lies is in their history and their deep roots in individuality.

Mary Bolton says …

Every summer I wait impatiently for heirlooms to show up. They taste like a tomato is supposed to taste and enhance any dish that you add them to. Life is better with heirlooms!

A. Sue says …

Heirlooms are special because they are uniquely colored, taste like the garden, and come at a most wonderful and warm time of year. Mostly, they are delicious.

RH says …

They’re special to me because my mom used to grow them in our family garden, and together we would harvest them each summer. To me, the smell of fresh heirloom tomatoes is the essence of the summer season.

Betsy Hunter says …

Nothing better than a big red tomato sliced up on toasted rosemary/olive oil bread, with salt and pepper and arugula.

beth says …

Heirlooms, especially fresh from the garden, are just pure joy. My summer dining has been heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and happiness!

Ruth Spruell says …

The beautiful heirloom tomatoes are the expression of summertime. They truly taste like the ones I remember from my childhood, when we picked them right out of the garden and brought them straight to the table. I recently made the most wonderful salad with them stacked, topped with Gorgonzola cheese, calamata olives, sprinkled with sunflower seeds and some small greens, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. Absolutely delicious!!!

Mike H says …

Heirloom tomatoes are a reminder of years past, of innocence, of late summer harvests with friends and family. And, by the way, they are delectable!

Megan says …

I enjoy them for their flavor and character. They make a dish more interesting.

Carol says …

As a 78 year old senior they make me think of all the good tasting tomatoes from my childhood.

susan kendall says …

A friend of mine gave me some Black Prince heirloom tomatoes last year. What a treat! I had never tried heirlooms before, figuring that tomatoes are just bland things for salads. The Black Prince was like a prince charming of tomatoes, handsome and came to the rescue for our salad.

rick says …

There is nothing better than fresh heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and basil. This has been a bountiful season for growing heirlooms in St. Louis!

Jodi says …

Heirloom tomatoes remind me of when I was a child and we all worked in our family garden. We grew many different tomato varieties. I still remember how they smelled. So wonderful.

Marina says …

I LOVE Heirloom tomatoes for their wonderful flavor and variety of colors. My favorite dish is to make a Caprese salad with White Truffle oil and Truffle salt. Heavenly delicious!

Nikki M. says …

They are phenomenal for everything!

Pam says …

I love heirloom tomatoes because they come in all shapes, sizes & colors & look beautiful & have intense flavor even when simply prepared & paired with fresh corn, basil & dressed with a vinegrette- ummm!

Michael Robertson says …

Their taste is superior to regular tomatoes... They are also known as ugly tomatoes, as you can see, you can't judge the tomato by it's looks......

ew says …

They are the best tasting tomatoes on the planet -- what tomatoes SHOULD taste like!

Gary Crispens says …

Why do I love Heirloom tomatoes? That is an easy one - because they are my wife's favorites !!! I love their unique shapes, colors and their sweet taste that is not too acidic. They make a sandwich or summer salad COME ALIVE!! We always buy them at any price !!!

Kathy Fletcher says …

Heirloom tomatoes and fresh peaches are the icons of my summers. It's not unusual for me to eat heirloom tomatoes three meals a day. From simply sliced and naked to using them in an obscenely delectable sauce, heirloom tomatoes provide a delightful spectrum of tastes and textures for a few brief months each year. Treasure and honor them now!

Jen says …

Heirloom tomatoes are special because every single one is unique. They are delicate and beautiful, always adding that extra "special something" to a dish.

Karen Lafaro says …

Absolutely love this time of year when the Heirloom tomatoes are here. They make salads beautiful with their incredible diverse colors...their dense texture makes them stand out in home made salsa....and their delicious, unique flavors make them worth waiting for. We will buy them until they are gone....and wait with anticipation til next season...

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