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Over the years supermarket tomatoes have been bred for a uniformed red color and an average size and weight. While their beauty has appealed to our eyes, they have left our palates unsatisfied with the same boring tastes over and over again. Fortunately there is a cure- heirloom varieties. Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds passed down through several generations that have produced the same variety of tomatoes. Normal features for heirlooms include many unusual colors and shapes and may have odd-looking ridges and bumpy surfaces. They provide a greater diversity in taste and coloring.

Selecting

Look for bright color and smooth, unblemished skin. Tomatoes should feel heavy for their size and be soft and yield to the touch. Smell is also an excellent indicator of ripeness; unripe tomatoes have no aroma. Size has no correlation with quality—large ones can be just as delicious as small ones. Heirlooms arrive in the summer, but you can find some greenhouse grown beauties throughout the year.  Orange and yellow tomatoes taste sweetest because they are lowest in acid; dark red and black tomatoes usually have a good balance between sugar and acid, while green and white tomatoes will taste more tart because of their high acid content.

Storing

Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature and then eaten within a few days once ripe. Hasten ripening by placing them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple. It is generally recommended not to refrigerate tomatoes at all.

 

HEIRLOOM TOMATO VARIETIES

 

Orange & Yellow

These bright and attractive orange-yellow tomatoes, when sliced, have a rich aroma that will remind you of carefree summers past. The meaty fruit have few seeds. Wonderful for sauces and cooking.

Marvel Stripe

The Marvel Stripe heirloom tomato variety offers a mild, sweet and somewhat fruity tomato flavor. They are the same color as pineapple tomatoes but are named for the red stripes that run across its golden background and pleated skin. Inside, it has deep orange and yellow marbling. Similar to a Zapotec tomato, these juicy, thin-skinned tomatoes are the largest of the bi-colored tomatoes and can weigh in at one to two pounds and grow to four inches in diameter. This tomato is best eaten fresh, and lightly seasoned. Create a tomato relish using fresh basil, chopped red onion, diced jalapeno, minced garlic, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Grill breads with tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and some salt

Brandywines- Red, Vintage, & Yellow

Brandywine, which dates back to 1885, is the heirloom tomato standard. One taste and you’ll be enchanted by its superb flavor and luscious shade of red-pink. The large, beefsteak-shaped fruits grow on unusually upright, potato-leaved plants. The fruits set one or two per cluster and ripen late—and are worth the wait. Brandywine's qualities really shine when it develops an incredible fine, sweet flavor.

Cherokee Purple

Unique dusty rose color. Flavor rivals Brandywine, extremely sweet.

Russo Bruno

A European favorite, Rosso Bruno Tomatoes are distinct, delicious and truly original. With a rich, dark color, superior texture and a delicious sweet, tart taste -- they freshen up any salad or sandwich. Hand-picked and vine-ripened they are available year-round and will become a quick favorite with your family.

Green Zebra

Beautiful chartreuse with deep lime-green stripes, very attractive. Flesh is bright green and very rich tasting, sweet with a sharp bite to it.

Sweeties

Cherry tomatoes bursting with sugary flavor. The scarlet, cherry-sized fruits are produced in long pendulous clusters right up to frost. Grow on stakes or a fence.

Gold Nugget

Gold Nugget attains an unusually rich, sweet flavor when ripe. Its fruit is sweet, flavorful and crack resistant.  A colorful addition to salads and relish trays.

Grape

Grape tomatoes have a sweet flavor, a firm texture, and less juice, so there's no need to worry about any squirting when you bite into one. Averaging between one-half and three-quarters of an inch in length, they're perfect for popping whole into your mouth like candy, which is probably why kids adore them too. They're low in calories and high in vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and lycopene, so what's not to like? When buying, look for bright, shiny skin and firm flesh.


 

 


Where "Local" Means Sonoma County

To us Local means Sonoma County -- period. Not Marin, not Napa, and definitely not the state of California, as some of our competitors define it.

From the day we opened our doors in 1988, we’ve built our business on the simple premise that the best food and wine in the world are produced here, in Sonoma County. We didn’t feel like we were pioneers at the time, but as people have come to understand and embrace the value of locally grown and made food and the value of shopping locally, we realize we were part of the early days of the movement.

As a Sonoma County business, we’ve built enduring relationships with local growers, makers, and manufacturers, because they make the foods and wines we love. Many of them were getting started when we were. Now they are nationally known, but for us, they are still old friends who often delivered products to our Cotati store in their cars back in the late 1980s.

Along with local products being excellent choices for taste and quality reasons, buying locally also improves our local economy. The dollars you spend at local retailers buying local products support other local businesses and our tax base, too!

Tasting Notes

Matt Rice

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