Substitute heirloom varieties in these FoodFit recipes.
Meet a Mid-Atlantic grower.
Meet a New England grower.
Heirlooms...Taste of the Past
Have you ever sampled a salad of Deer Tongue lettuce, bitten into a Cherokee Purple tomato, or sucked on a slice of a Jenny Lind melon? While this may sound like exotic eating it's actually quite the opposite: these varieties of
vegetables and fruits are actually some of the oldest around and were enjoyed not only by our grandparents, but our great grandparents too. These so-called heirlooms varieties that date back at least 50 years are cropping up
more and more in farmer's markets and supermarkets as people
rediscover the full-bodied flavors of the past.
Heirloom varieties offer not only good-tasting fruits and vegetables, but
enticing colors and irregular shapes as well. Don't be put off by
their unfamiliar appearance: just imagine how the look of a summer staple,
like a tomato salad, could be livened up by a mixture of dusty pink,
deep red, and lemon yellow fruits.
If these old varieties taste so great, why aren't they more common?
Heirloom varieties tend to be strains that were bred for taste, when
small-scale agricultural production was the norm. They don't necessarily
stand up as well as modern hybrids to the rigors of today's farming methods
where mass transportation and storage are unavoidable. But, as supermarkets
are beginning to respond to consumer demand for more local produce,
small-scale farmers are able to offer more heirloom specialties.
Here are just a few delicious heirlooms to add to your grocery cart next
time you go shopping.
Brandywine Tomato An heirloom that has been around for more than a hundred years, the Amish reportedly bred the Brandywine. This luscious fruit, with a pinkish flesh and deep red skin is one of the largest tomatoes,
each one can weigh up to a pound. Don't be put off by the skin, which is
sometimes ribbed or cracked: this is the filet mignon of tomatoes.
Deer Tongue Lettuce Named for distinctive, long, pointed leaves, this
variety of the green bibb lettuce is mild in flavor but has thicker
leaves that take well to a stronger dressing.
Hubbard Squash With varieties of Hubbard squash such as the Blue Hubbard or the Warted Hubbard, the classic Hubbard squash was brought to New England in the late eighteenth century by a sea captain returning from the West Indies and South America. This large squash is wonderful either baked or used as a substitute for sweet potato in pies. Beware of its size: a Hubbard Squash can weigh 10 pounds or more.
Jenny Lind Melon Named after a Swedish opera singer, this wonderful musk
melon is renown for its soft juicy flesh. Although it quickly became popular
for both home gardening and commercial use, but it proved too delicate to
ship in large quantities. The Jenny Lind is a smallish melon with a
distinctive globe-like shape.
By Ruth Prince