Posts tagged Taste

The Definitive Reason Heirloom Tomatoes Are Just Plain Better

The Definitive Reason Heirloom Tomatoes Are Just Plain Better
by Julie R. Thomson – Huffington Post

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but if you’ve never had an heirloom tomato then you’ve never tasted a real tomato. With tomato season just upon us — and dreams of yellow, red, pink and purple slices on our plates — we began to wonder what it was that made heirloom tomatoes so much better than the conventional ones you can buy at the grocery store any time of year. We know they don’t look the same. And we know they cost more. But why?

We turned to expert gardener John Coykendall at the most magical place on earth, Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, to fill us in on the heirloom-tomato hype. He was gracious enough to give us his time and to answer our questions — and he perfectly articulated what it is that makes heirloom tomatoes so great, using the best analogies we’ve ever heard.

Let us cut right to the chase: Why are heirlooms better than industrially-grown or hybrid tomatoes?
The answer is simple: The old ones tasted like a real tomato. What we’re growing today, I would hardly classify as a real tomato. I suppose they’re alive, but the resemblance stops there. We had it right 100 years ago.

One thing is, you get all the subtle differences in heirlooms [that you don’t get in the other tomatoes]. Your yellow heirloom tomatoes are milder. And your red heirlooms have a lot more acidic quality. Something interesting of note is that if you look at a canning recipe from the 1930s or 40s, you didn’t have to add anything to it; those tomatoes had a very high acid content. Today’s tomatoes, all the flavor and taste and everything else has been bred out of it. So, if you look at the latest Ball canning book they’ve upped the processing time and also recommend you put a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice [to account for that]. There’s a big big difference.

We had a lady visit the other day who asked, “What do I do if I want a nice fresh tomato in January? I said, “Go to the store, buy a can of Romas, dump them in your salad bowl and dress it with your salad dressing — it’ll taste 100 percent more like a tomato than what you buy at the store that time of year.” It’s true — that’s just the way it is. The season is short, but you relish that time that you do have them. They don’t last forever. I always tell the guests that really good tomatoes are they come but once and year so take it and be thankful. The rest of the time you’re going to have to settle on something else that’s in season.

I know you’ve eaten — probably by mistake — a winter tomato that has a plastic skin and a styrofoam interior. Yeah, those ones from South Florida, the green ones, the baseball team uses those for batting practice before they head north. You couldn’t put a dent in one if you tried.

What else is special about heirloom tomatoes, aside from taste and their unique characteristics?
They’re so beautiful. Some of them are solid yellow, some have pink modeling to them. There’s one called Mr. Stripey. All of those sliced up together aesthetically speaking make a statement on the plate. They speak for themselves. People always ask when I give a talk if I make notes. And I say I don’t have to. If I have beans in front of me on the table each one of them has their own story — and it’s the same with the heirloom tomatoes.

All this talk about heirlooms, can you tell us what qualifies a tomato as an heirloom?

The rule of thumb for any kind of heirloom in the seed world is that something has to be at least 50 years old to be an heirloom. Or it has to be associated with an area, a farm or specific family. I’m an heirloom, plus 21 years.

How did the bland tomatoes at the grocery store become so common place?

In the early days we had farming communities all around us. Even outside NYC, they had the infrastructure for local farming. But that’s gone today. The tomatoes they grew in South Florida then had that wonderful flavor, but it was meant to go from the vine right to your dinner table. Those tomatoes won’t ship — the skins are soft and they bruise. They would go to pieces in no time. Now, they make tomatoes to ship. Bred for mechanical harvest, shipping, shelf life, etc.

I’ll give you a perfect example of that: we had someone doing an internship with us and she brought some of those tomatoes in. She was going to have them for lunch, but we got busy and she forgot. The next day I made a display out of them with some corn shucks, just different decorations. And I left those there until the end of March. I took everything down and lo and behold those tomatoes were still sitting there. Looked liked something out of King Tuts tomb — all shriveled up, but it never did rot. A mummified tomato. [That’s what they sell at the grocery store.]

Is there a national seal of approval for heirlooms?

[In short, no.] The way of knowing is the taste test. Once you get home and taste it you know you got the real thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an heirloom tomato faked — it either is or it isn’t.

Leave a comment »

Company Review: S.W. Basics of Brooklyn – Truly All-Natural Sustainable Skincare, Part 1

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn: Truly All-Natural Sustainable Skincare, Part 1 in business since 2009 under the name “Sprout Wellness” and the current brand name since November 2012

I met Adam Poor, VP of S.W. Basics of Brooklyn at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim during the month of March 2013. The company was introducing their products at the Organic Marketplace (features only certified organic products). I am always searching for the best products that are also of the highest quality and integrity. I don’t want you, my readers, to settle either. I hope you do your research as diligently as I do before you shop for any and all products you use – food, household, body and skincare. If you are lazy, they you came to the right place because I do the “legwork” for you. When I find a product I don’t simply use it because the company makes the “claim” that it is healthy, natural, good for me. Those words are used too commonly and matter-of-factly in the world today and have lost their true meaning (back in the day products were made by your grandmother/great-grandmother from natural ingredients you had in home like oils, vinegar, beeswax, essential oils, herbs, flowers, etc). I research the ingredients used, check out there site, talk to them in person/on the phone and them I am ready to test it out for myself if it meets my “hyper-high” standards of purity, integrity and environmental consciousness.

You may say, it is nice to talk about this, but are there really companies creating/producing products that are truly natural? Yes, there are! There are those people who are “fed up” with all the “garbage” sold in the supermarkets, drug stores, retailers and even health food stores (sad 😦 to say, they aren’t immune from it and sell products that used to be authentic, but now have “sold out” to BIG companies that are only looking for profits as their “bottom line!”)

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn is definitely in the category of doing it right! They only use 5 or less ingredients in all their products. On top of that, they are organic, fair trade, American-made, ingredients sourced from small family farms, made from scratch without synthetics or cheap fillers. You get the whole potent product that isn’t watered down. Too many products claim to have in them, for example, an essential oil and either has a very minuscule amount in it or is a chemical derivative and doesn’t even ever resemble the natural ingredient in smell or look. To put the “icing on the cake,” they even have the “nerve/chutzpah” to put a beautiful picture on the bottle/container of the herb used to create the essential oil to trick the consumer/customer to believe it has that ingredient in it. Most of the time, if you took it to a chemist to analyze, there may not even be a trace of what they claim. I wish there was more “police-ing” of the health and beauty industry to filter out all the crap from what is truly made with integrity and care for the people and the planet.

Adam was nice enough to send me the 4 varieties/flavors of the beeswax lip balms to test out and review on my blog. As I said before, their products are made with 5 natural ingredients or less and that holds true for there lip balms, as well. If you don’t believe me (ok, so if you are a new follower, you may be skeptical and if you are a “regular,” then you know I am not fooling you because you have probably already tried other products I recommended in my posts), then check the website for yourself (link is on the right-hand side of the page under the column titled Blogroll.

Each one of the lip balms has a distinct taste to it. Yes, that is what I said! Remember when you put any lip gloss, lipstick or lip balm on your lips, ultimately you will taste it in your mouth from licking your lips or after you bite into some food while it is still on. If you are eating the healthiest and best organic food, why would you want to also “consume”chemicals by way of what you put on your lips? Maybe you never thought of that, but it is absolutely true! You don’t have to worry when you use these lip balms, as they will not harm you.

The most basic of the 4 lip balms, is the Cocoa variety that only had 3 ingredients. It goes on smooth and has a silky feel. I can smell (yes, there is the added benefit of aromatherapy when you breathe in the ingredients) the cocoa butter. It brings back memories of when you could detect the aroma at the beach as people slathered it on their bodies. With all 4 varieties, my lips stay moist and healthy. The next flavor, Peppermint has 4 ingredients and makes my lips tingle – it lasts for a while so enjoy the sensation. It perks you up, too when you breathe in the peppermint. It doesn’t have that “fake” unnatural scent. I know because I am a vegan/raw food chef and use lots of fresh herbs to add flavor and accent to my dishes. The third flavor, Citrus has 5 ingredients and I can smell the citrus immediately. Again, their is the aromatherapeutic affect (you can put it on your lips and also smell it!) which you may not realize. This is one of my favorites. I will give you the RVG (Rawsome Vegan Gal)rating at the end. The final one is, Cinnamon that also has 5 ingredients. As soon as I take the cap off of it, I can smell the cardamom. It has a strong and powerfully distinct aroma.

The RVG Rating (Rawsome Vegan Gal) for the four lip balms (in order of like – Disclaimer: this may be different then on my YouTube video, as I made that first and don’t remember what I said 😉

1- COCOA: I like the simplicity of ingredients, subtle flavor and the creamy texture
2- CITRUS: I love citrus and it is also aromatherapeutic – added bonus
3- PEPPERMINT: Nice tingle, smell isn’t offensive or overbearing and it perks you up
4- CINNAMON: Strong aroma and to me has a more masculine appeal

Please check out their website http://www.swbasicsofbk.com for more information about all the skincare products and their fantastic story. Scroll down this page and on right-hand side you will find the link under the column titled Blogroll.

Disclaimer: I was not sponsored to write this, but I did receive a sample of the product(s). These are strictly my opinions. I only review products that I, myself would use and purchase.

I also did a video review http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KARSWDd32Ro
and had FUN doing it and my disclaimer/preface is: “don’t mind my manners” and I repeat it in the video, as well (you’ll see why). You can check out my YouTube channel for this and other videos: http://www.youtube.com/TheRawsomeVeganGal

Subscribe to my youtube channel if you have a Gmail, Google+, Picasa, YouTube, Orkut or Google Chrome account and then you can also leave a comment and like my videos.

Comments (3) »

%d bloggers like this: