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What Are Heirloom Tomatoes?

30 January 2014 7 Comments

j0443944You probably know that the word “heirloom” means something that is passed down from generation to generation. So what does the word “heirloom” mean to the world of tomatoes?

An heirloom tomato is a type of tomato that has existed–without genetic modification or hybridization–since approximately 1940. Some heirloom tomatoes, heirloom tomato seeds, and heirloom tomato plants are commercially-available, which means that you can purchase them from heirloom tomato suppliers. Another definition of heirloom tomatoes means that a particular type of tomato seeds are passed down through the generations. This involves Grandma growing tomatoes in her garden, saving some seeds from those tomatoes, and passing them down to Mom, who grows her own tomatoes in her garden, saves some seeds, and passes those seeds down to her child when that child has a home and garden of his/her own.

Heirloom tomatoes have a deeper, more intense tomato flavor than the newer, genetically-altered hybrid tomatoes.

So, if heirloom tomatoes taste so much better, why were hybrids developed? Heirloom tomatoes come from a time in history when people grew their food at home. There were no processed foods, and there was little need or demand for shipping food across long distances. Heirloom tomatoes–like the Brandywine tomato, for example–have thinner skins and juicier flesh than the hybridized tomatoes of today. This makes them bad candidates for the handling and shipping that today’s hybridized tomatoes go through before reaching grocery stores and tables across the world. Heirlooms lend themselves to being grown, picked, and eaten within a small distance and window of time.

I personally grow Brandywine heirloom tomatoes from seed.  There are a wide variety of heirloom tomato seeds available, including striped tomatoes and some in shades of deep purple. Check out the heirloom tomato seeds available at Amazon.

Next time: How to Grow Heirloom Tomatoes in Containers

Originally posted 2010-04-09 21:38:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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