Selecting the Best Tomatoes
for Summer Meals

Heirloom tomatoes

A plethora of summertime dishes call for tomatoes, but which variety should you choose for your meal? We look at the differences between grocer’s and farmers’ market finds.

Grocers typically carry the most common tomato varieties. Grape tomatoes are more oblong than are cherry tomatoes, which are also among the smallest. The grape variety contains less water than do other selections, and they tend to keep well, making them a year-round essential. Both are wonderful for snacking or for garnishing a salad or a pasta dish. Also delectable is the beefsteak, a term that refers to the shape. Beefsteaks pair well with sandwiches and can be thinly sliced. During their peak, they are flavorful, but when used out of season, they tend to be bland. Another popular variety is the globe-shaped Campari, a cocktail, or average-sized, tomato that is sold on the vine.

Heirloom tomatoes, often for sale at farmers’ markets, are more exotic than are the more readily available varieties. Sungolds are hybrids the size of cherry tomatoes and have an orange-gold hue. Their peak season—when they are at their sweetest—is late summer. Sungolds are great for snacks and are delicious in omelets or on pizza. Another popular heirloom is the Green Zebra, known for its lime green–and– striped yellow pattern. This type tastes acidic rather than sweet. The Garden Peach, like the Green Zebra, is sweet and mild. True to its name, it has a coat of fuzz, and the hue is similar to that of a peach, with a mixture of yellow and pink. These tomatoes don’t last long, so eat them right away! Brandywines are not too sweet or acidic, and they are meatier than other beefsteaks. Fun fact: Brandywine tomatoes can grow to more than 1 pound. Such a robust fruit could certainly put a spin on the classic Caprese salad.

Don’t miss our delicious recipe for a Mixed Heirloom Tomato Salad!


Text Nicole Caston
Photography Marcy Black Simpson

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