Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Lover

I am a tomato lover.

I’m not alone in the tomato lust department. I’ve stood behind several devotees at farmer’s markets or at checkout counters who have happily paid $6.00 for their oddly shaped, wrinkled and rainbow colored heirloom tomatoes. $6.00 for one tomato?! Are we crazy? Why do we do it when there is a perfect pyramid of Roma or beefsteak tomatoes everyday without fail in the produced department for half the price? We’re not trying to be Gucci, we do it for flavor.

Tomato lovers consider it crazy to pay for mealy, tasteless tomatoes, simply because the store sells these disappointing replicas called “tomatoes” year-round. I’m one of these people who wished that tomatoes tasted the way they do in the summer 365 days a year, but I have come to the realization that in order to experience the flavor of summer tomatoes all year round, I’ll need to get busy canning when tomatoes are at their peak.

American’s have gotten used to pumpkins only being available in the fall, so why can’t we teach ourselves that when things are at their seasonal peak- they taste better! And guess what else? They are in seasonal abundance and therefore cheaper!

For tomato lovers, summer is a long awaited treat and even more so if you happen to be a gardener and you are growing your own heirloom tomatoes. Seeing the first signs of fruit is that much sweeter and sooo worth the wait! And just reading the names of the heirloom tomato varieties from a seed catalogs is like reading through pages of children’s book characters, and you know there is a story behind each one! “Green Zebra,” “Bloody Butcher” and “Chocolate Stripes” to name a few!” One heirloom tomato seed website offers more than 600 heirloom varieties to choose from.

I just recently moved into my very first house and it looked to have a little bit of a yard, no trees, but a perfect spot with lengthy, direct sunlight- perfect for tomatoes! Months before we bought the house, I noticed a left over tomato plant marker, “New Girl” just lying in the dirt bed; perhaps one of the neighbor’s tags flew over the side or it was dropped by a curious crow, as there was nothing growing there, it seemed out of place. No one had lived in the house for 2 years, but it was like my thoughts were illustrated in front of me, this is where I wanted to plant tomatoes.
The day we showed up with our moving van something green and gorgeous was planted in the dirt bed. A brand new “New Girl” tomato starter plant was planted right in the plant marker spot, freshly watered and surrounded by its own little wire cage.
The seller, the only living brother who was born in the 101 year old house, had left us a house warming present- a tomato plant. Something that was obviously important to him, something that must have grown well, in the same spot for more than 70 years.

I’ll be adding another 10 heirloom varieties to join the “New Girl,” perhaps a move I’ll regret later, as I’ll be up to my ears in tomatoes by summer’s end, but as a devoted tomato lover, that is exactly where I’d like to be.


kristen schumacher said...

you said it best. heirloom tomatoes are clearly my favorite food. the anticipation kills me every year, but worth the yummy wait! cant wait to catch up. ps. I recognize that window sill!!!

Anne said...

That was so nice of that guy to plant the tomato for you! What lovely foreshadowing for a great summer. I watch over my tomato plants every morning, excited for those first bites!