15 Delicious Heirloom Tomato Recipes That Are Perfect for Summer

15 Delicious Heirloom Tomato Recipes That Are Perfect for Summer

When summer rolls around, there’s no better way to freshen up a caprese salad or add juiciness to a sandwich than with a plump tomato. That is, of course, unless you cut into a waxy, bland one, which doesn’t do much for your food except making it taste like a whole lotta nothing.

That’s where heirloom tomatoes come in. Unlike traditional versions, these varieties are purposefully cultivated with taste in mind, Lisa Troutner, owner of Carmel Bell Farm, which specializes in heirloom varieties, tells SELF.

With traditional tomatoes, flavor takes a backseat to more practical factors, such as disease-resistance and ability to last longer in grocery stores without spoiling, Troutner says. Heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand, have been bred for their flavor and juiciness—which may also mean a lower yield and shorter shelf-life, she says. Typically, their seeds have been saved, passed down, and replanted for generations, Troutner adds. That rich taste you experience when you bite into one likely has been developed over many years, which is why it packs a delicious punch.

Heirloom varieties come in all shapes and colors, including purple, pink, yellow, orange, dark maroon, red, and green—and even with patterns like stripes or marbling tones. Their shades can actually dictate different tastes and textures, Troutner says. For example, yellowish orange ones carry a nectar-like flavor, while certain red varieties have more of a firm and meaty feel, making them perfect for hearty tomato sauces, she says.

But even heirloom varieties might not be at their most delicious if you don’t eat them at the right time. That’s why it’s important to know how to choose a ripe tomato so that you don’t end up with a bland-tasting one, Troutner says. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Give the tomato a slight squeeze. You don’t want an overly mushy feel, but you’ll want it to have some softness, she says.
  • Look out for fruit blushes or varying colorations on the skin. This signals that the tomato is ready to eat, she explains.
  • Give the tomato a simple smell test, Troutner says. Look out for strong, fragrant scents versus mild ones; this will let you know it’s ripe.

The last thing you want to keep in mind is storage: You don’t want your fruit to go bad too quickly. Keep your tomatoes at room temperature and out of direct sunlight, Troutner says—meaning, your kitchen counter versus your windowsill. You don’t want to put your heirloom tomatoes in the fridge because the cool temperature will compromise their taste, she says. And move them away from other produce, like bananas or avocados. That’s because they emit ethylene gas, which will speed up your tomato’s ripening process.

Okay, now that you’ve gotten the intel on all things tomato, you’re probably craving some right about now. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with 15 heirloom tomato recipes, ranging from refreshing takes on staples like crisp salads to creative options like buttery tarts. Make the most of your seasonal summer produce with these options, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner ideas.

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