Heirloom Tomatoes: Elevate Your Caprese Salad

From Zebras to Brandywines and all the tomato goodness in between, here is everything you need to know about heirloom tomato varieties.

It’s tomato season! Whether from the farmers market, your local grocer or plucked right off your own backyard vines, fresh tomatoes are versatile and delicious. This month, we’re partnering with Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen to share tips, insights and recipes featuring tomatoes.

Few things say summer like the taste of a fresh, just-picked tomato. Not the dulled, processed flavor of tomatoes hybridized and gassed to tolerate long shipping distances and days spent on supermarket shelves, but the juicy, earthy richness of an honest-to-goodness heirloom tomato: a variety that has been around for decades – possibly centuries – and grows true from seed. Heirlooms run the gamut in color, shape (some varieties will look less like tomatoes and more like knobby alien creatures), and most importantly, taste.

So, before your next trip to the farmers market, where you may encounter heirloom varieties of every shape, size and color (and strange names to match), take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of our favorites.

Limmony: Bright yellow (hence, the name), with a citrus-y tang that reminds you that tomatoes are actually fruits, not vegetables. Limmony is a Russian heirloom tomato that has a zestier flavor than most yellow tomatoes, which are typically quite mild and have low acidity. You might also find this flavorful heirloom labeled as “Lemony,” but whichever way you spell it, it’s an excellent addition to your summer cooking repertoire. Try Limmony tomatoes in this yellow tomato and ginger sauce, delicious over fish or pork.

Green Zebra: The skin of this interesting tomato somewhat resembles watermelon rind, and the taste is a little bit tart, a little bit spicy. The “zebra” moniker will be apparent on first glance — especially when it’s aside non-zebra tomatoes — thanks to the color striations that will generally run vertically through the tomato. Green Zebra is a beefsteak tomato, meaning the fruit is large and slices well for use on sandwiches or burgers hot off the grill.

Cherokee Purple: This large tomato has a purplish-brown hue, sometimes with a green or red blush around the stem. The flavor is quite intriguing: somewhat smoky, somewhat sweet, with an aftertaste often compared to zinfandel wine. Should you find yourself with a fairly big stash of these, then Cherokee purple tomatoes will make a mean tomato jam, due to their rich flavor.

Mortgage Lifter: The story goes that back in the 1930s, a radiator repairman decided to cross four of the largest tomato varieties he could find, and eventually developed a large, mildly sweet tomato with a meaty texture. He sold the tomato seedlings for $1 each, and raised enough money to pay off his house loan in just six years, leading to the name “Mortgage Lifter” for his now-famous heirloom tomato. With thin skin, few seeds and a fine flavor, Mortgage Lifter makes an excellent pasta sauce.

Old Ivory Egg: This mild, sweet plum tomato is the size and shape of a chicken’s egg, and changes from white to yellow as it matures. As with most yellow tomatoes, its mild nature makes it good for pretty much any culinary use.

Black Krim: Purplish-black, often with streaks of green, Black Krim is not the most attractive tomato at the farmer’s market, but it’s one of the tastiest. The profile is intense, with a smoky, salty aftertaste that is earthy and not overly acidic — to put it mildly, it’s a flavor bomb.

Brandywine: One of the most popular heirloom tomatoes, Brandywine has been cultivated for more than a hundred years, and is found in a variety of colors, including pink, purple and yellow. The red Brandywine’s the classic, however, with a pure, tomato taste that is almost floral in your mouth. These large tomatoes have a perfect balance between acidic bite and sweet aftertaste.

With tomatoes this good, simpler is often better. Why not prepare a sophisticated Caprese salad?

Traditionally, a Caprese salad of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil is a great sweet, fresh and creamy combination. To honor the produce of summer even further, this recipe includes nectarines, which are known to pair well with the acidity of tomatoes. You could use white or yellow, or even peaches if that is what is on hand. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, watermelon is a unique fruit alternative to the nectarines.

Pair this with an extra creamy burrata and kick back with a glass of Italian wine.

Live.Love.Lux Tip: Keep your fresh produce fresh — for longer — using the adjustable humidity controls on your Electrolux refrigerator’s Luxury-Glide Crisper Drawers.

Summer Tomato & Nectarine Caprese with Burrata, Basil Oil & Oregano

"For the basil oil, check out how to make your own homemade infusion. Otherwise, a well-stocked olive oil shop will carry one. If infused oil is not something in your pantry, a good quality extra virgin olive oil will work just fine – it will just be slightly less herbacious." - Sara

Servings: 4



2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (large, small or mixed sizes)

2 nectarines

8 ounces burrata cheese

2-3 tablespoon basil infused olive oil (see past article on how to infuse)
sea salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves


Slice the tomatoes into 1/2” slices, discarding the ends. Slice the nectarines into 1/2” slices as well, discarding the pit. Arrange the tomatoes and nectarines on a platter.

Gently rip the burrata into small chunks and nestle it between the fruits. Drizzle the olive oil on top along with a few pinches each of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Sprinkle the oregano leaves and serve immediately.

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