Get The Most Out of Your Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes From Backyard Eats
Harvesting Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes
When It’s Ready
Tomatoes can be harvested any time after the appearance of orange or yellow coloring on the blossom end (bottom). Harvest at this stage and bring inside where it will be protected from critters, insects, and excessive rain.
“Once tomatoes start ripening, check the vines almost daily in order to harvest fruits at their peak.” [RUEOG]
“Most plants can survive a light frost if adequately mulched, but at the first sign of a heavy frost, harvest all the fruits, even the green ones.” [RUEOG]
When It’s Too Late
- Excessive rainfall may cause ripening or ripe tomatoes to split, which is one reason we recommend harvesting before ripening.
- Overripe tomatoes will begin to fall from the vine, or be easily smashed with light pressure.
- Cut or gently twist off the fruits, supporting the vine at the same time to keep from damaging it.
- If a fruit does not detach easily from the vine, leave it to fully ripen unless in danger of hard frost.
Growing Heirloom and Beefsteak
Heirloom tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and are known for their unique and complex flavors. Heirloom tomatoes are typically used as a vegetable ingredient, and can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be sliced and used in salads, sandwiches, or as a topping for pizza or bruschetta. They can also be roasted, grilled, or stewed to bring out their rich and savory flavor.
Varieties of Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes:
Beefsteak Tomato ‘Big Beef’ | Black Beefsteak Tomato ‘Carbon’ | Early Tomato ‘New Girl’, Heirloom Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ | Large Heirloom Tomato ‘Brandywine’ | Multicolor Tomato ‘Pineapple Express’
Storing Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes
- Ripe tomatoes will keep refrigerated for several weeks, or shorter when kept at room temperature.
- Green tomatoes will eventually ripen if kept in a warm place out of direct sunlight. To slowly ripen green tomatoes, and thereby extend your harvest, wrap them in newspaper and place in a dark, cool area, checking frequently to make sure that none rot.
- Allow your tomato to come to room temperature before serving.
- Partially damaged or rotten tomatoes can be used in sauces if the damaged portion is completely removed.
Cooking With Heirloom and Beefsteak Tomatoes
- Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad: Slice heirloom tomatoes and layer them with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze or olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper for a colorful and delicious Caprese salad.
- Beefsteak Tomato Sandwich: Slice beefsteak tomatoes and use them as the star ingredient in a classic sandwich. Layer with lettuce, bacon, avocado, and your choice of meats or cheeses for a satisfying and juicy sandwich.
- Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta: Dice heirloom tomatoes and mix them with minced garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spoon the mixture onto toasted baguette slices for a vibrant and flavorful appetizer.
- Grilled Beefsteak Tomato: Slice beefsteak tomatoes into thick rounds, brush with olive oil, and grill them until slightly charred. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs like thyme or rosemary for a smoky and flavorful side dish or burger topping.
- Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho: Blend ripe heirloom tomatoes with cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs to create a refreshing gazpacho soup. Serve chilled and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped herbs for a light and flavorful starter.