How to Pick a Good Heirloom Tomato

I have quite a bit of concern about tomatoes, especially because of the beautiful, delicate heirlooms. I’ve been waiting all year, dreaming of the simplest, most exquisite tomato sandwiches, and then immediately go crazy when the moment comes. After all, I don’t want to pick the wrong tomato.

There is nothing more disappointing than a soft overripe tomato, with the possible exception of an odorless unripe tomato. Fortunately, this isn’t as big of a gamble as you might think. Here are some tactics to help you avoid wasting money on lousy tomatoes:

  • Get out of the grocery store: the more local the tomato, the better it will be, as tomatoes that come from distant lands are often harvested while still green and then allowed to ripen during transport. Farmers markets are best for you, or at least shops that buy produce from nearby farms. Like “natural,” “heirloom” is not a regulated term, so tomatoes in larger chains may not even be true heirlooms. Going to a small local source also means you can ask questions. Ask your farmer (or vendor) which varieties are the tastiest right now – they might even give you a couple of samples.
  • Smell, Don’t Squeeze: Like me, heirloom tomatoes are fragile creatures – even more so than your standard heirloom steak or romasa – and pushing and squeezing them can damage their flesh and lead to faster rotting … Instead, gently pick up the tomato and sniff it; ripe should smell earthy and slightly sweet.
  • Use your eyes: the skin of a ripe tomato should be tight and shiny, without cracks or bruises. You should notice a slight yielding when picking one fruit without squeezing it, and the underside of the fruit should be nice and dark.

Once you receive your reward, carefully take it home – I grab a separate bag full of hand towels – and eat it within a couple of days. If you want to enjoy them all week, buy some immature guys and let them roll around the counter. Finally, although my southern soul hurts me, you can put a few tomatoes in the refrigerator , especially the super ripe ones, which you know are not going to be eaten right away. Just store them upside down, away from other foods, so they don’t roll or get scratched.


Leave a Reply