Behind Our Tomatoes

November 9th, 2017
musings, press

There are tomātoes and there are tomätoes and then there are TOMATOES! Locally grown, vine ripened, juicy, sweet, sprinkled-with-a-little-bit-of-salt-and-your-heart-sings “TOMATOES!” We all know what they are and thanks to Ripe, a local produce company that fills Hovey & Harrison with fruits and vegetables, you can have access to these little gems throughout the summer season!

If you’re looking for the best, try an heirloom tomato. Heirloom basically means the plants are open pollinated and have been growing for at least fifty years. They have become heirlooms because seeds were saved and passed down from generation to generation. While tomatoes are probably the most commonly known heirloom crop, there are hundreds of heirloom plants such as garlic, potatoes, beans, lettuce and carrots to name a few.

“What makes heirloom varietals so delicious,” explains Gretchen Hovey, Ripe founder and co-owner of Hovey & Harrison, “is the fact that as fruits and vegetables grow, they are developing their flavor and nutrition. The harder the produce has to fight to survive the tastier it becomes. Since heirloom varieties are not genetically bread to mass-produce or withstand harsh conditions they are constantly fighting to grow, creating intense flavors and nutrients.”

Heirloom tomatoes have long graced our tables. Dating back the 1800’s when immigrants from France, Germany, Italy and other European countries were arriving in North America bringing with them the seeds of their homeland, the tomato was a prized kernel amongst their collection. Shunned by the Puritans because of its seemingly dangerous and improper French name, pomme d’amour, meaning “love apple,” tomatoes endured years of folklore until an upsurge in Italian-American’s brought tomato sauce to the forefront with a newly popular food, pizza. Today, American’s consume an average of 22 pounds of tomatoes per person each year, according to the FSA.

Ripe offers an assortment of heirloom tomatoes, providing the Vail Valley a way to help preserve the genetic diversity and colorful history of this once questionably evil fruit.

“Taste can differ considerably from one variation to the next,” says Mikey Hovey, co-owner of Ripe, “with the multiple colors all complimenting the palette when eaten together.” Peter Schramm, the third member of the Ripe team chimed in, adding, “The lighter in color, the lower the acidity content lending to a sweeter taste, versus the deep red and purple tomatoes with a more ‘tomatoey’ flavor and higher acidity.”

Stop by to pick up some mouthwatering heirloom tomatoes and support retaining valuable genetic diversity and flavor!