Savoring Backyard Heirlooms

22 Feb 2011

I’ve been reading porn lately — garden porn. That’s what my husband calls the seed catalogs that come in the mail this time of year. It’s true that my desire for a garden tomato or an ear of fresh corn is at a fever pitch right now. I’m pulling tomatoes that I got from Frog Holler Organic Farm out of the freezer, along with containers of Locavorious frozen corn. They’re yummy, and it helps a little with the ache for summer. But at night, when it’s dark and quiet, I get out those colorful catalogs that promise so many pleasures.

The main thing I’m interested in is heirloom tomatoes. Even with our great CSA farm share, I just can’t get enough. I devote the majority of my tiny growing space to a handful of tomato plants that produce a rainbow of colors and flavors. Aunt Ruby’s German Green is my hands-down favorite. The fruits are bright green, and when perfectly ripe they soften with a golden tinge. The flavor is sweet, tart and spicy all at once, and the texture is silky smooth. It’s so delicious it was recently inducted into the Slow Food Ark of Taste. And the plants are prolific — last year I had tomatoes from them until a hard frost in late October. I ate the last one that ripened off the vine in December.

This year for the first time, Slow Food Huron Valley is teaming up with Project Grow (and a few other wonderful organizations and individuals) on a “Michigan Heirloom Seed Trial.” Erica Kempter, Slow Food Board Member and owner of Nature and Nurture, has put together a database of garden favorites traditionally grown in our region. Slow Food Huron Valley will be purchasing about 30 different varieties and providing the seeds for Project Grow to start this spring. If all goes well, gardeners will be able to buy and plant these tasty heirlooms that have been adapted to our region. We’re asking gardeners and a few trial farms to participate in giving feedback about how these Great Lakes heirlooms grow and how they taste. We’re hoping to use some of these vegetables to a create a special “Heirlooms of Michigan” tasting at the HomeGrown Festival on Sept. 10 this year.

Excerpt from article by Kim Bayer, freelance writer and culinary researcher.
First published in Ann Arbor.

Find out more about Aunty Ruby’s German Green from the Slow Food Ark of Taste.

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