The idea of heirloom fruits and vegetables conjures up images of summer, the farmer’s market, and multicolored tomatoes. Heirloom varieties are often much more flavorful, and they are one of the great treats of summer. When you have the opportunity to buy heirloom fruits and vegetables, take it. They may be a little more expensive, but it is well worth it because they taste great.
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Tomatoes are the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of heirloom fruits and vegetables. It is not hard to find heirloom tomatoes. They are abundant at the farmer’s market, and some grocery stores carry them. There are many varieties to choose from, but the Giant Belgium variety is one to try of you have the chance. These tomatoes are very large and have a dark pink flesh. They don’t have many seeds, and they are low in acid, which makes them a treat to eat!
The corn you buy in the grocery store is very different from heirloom corn. Conventional corn has been genetically modified to be much sweeter. While heirloom corn is not as sweet, fans of it say it tastes more like corn. Heirloom corn has a deep yellow color, and it is creamier than standard corn. Usually, heirloom corn is labeled old fashioned corn and can be found at farmer’s markets.
Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family, and it is very healthy. Generally, you see white cauliflower at the grocery store. However, there are also green, orange, and purple varieties. The colorful varieties of cauliflower actually predate the white variety. For a more colorful meal, try adding some of the colored cauliflower to your dishes.
In 1910 there were 15,000 varieties of apples in the United States; currently there are only 500. While there is much less diversity, you can still find heirloom apples, which are usually more flavorful and nutritious. The Belle de Boskoop is one variety to look for. It is a tangy apple developed in 1856. If you prefer sweet apples, Golden Russet and McIntosh apples are two heirloom varieties to try.
Peaches are a beloved summer fruit, but it can be hard to find good peaches at the grocery store. For the best peaches, you have to go to the farmer’s market where you will find fresh peaches and heirloom peaches. The Indian Blood Peach is a flavorful variety from the 1700s that you should try if you can. It has a red skin with white and red flesh. Another heirloom peach to sample is the O’Henry, which is a yellow peach with excellent flavor.
Who doesn’t love cherries? The sweet cherries are great for snacking, and the tart cherries make great pies. Bing cherries are an heirloom variety that is easy to find. Almost every grocery store carries them in the summer. They are very sweet, and, as an added bonus, they are very high in phytonutrients. If you are looking for a tart cherry, Balaton cherries are an heirloom variety from Hungary that might be perfect for your next pie.
Sweet cantaloupe is such a treat, and it seems like it always tastes better when it comes from the farmer’s market. While cantaloupe always tastes great when it is sweet and juicy, two varieties to try are the Charentais and the Blenheim Orange. Both are heirloom varieties that are very delicious.
One of the great things about summer is the abundance of fresh and flavorful produce. You can go to the farmer’s market and buy delicious fruits and vegetables. You can also get wonderful heirloom varieties that you probably can’t get any other time of year. What heirloom fruits and vegetables are your favorites?
Source: Robinson, Jo. Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. Print.
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