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Specialty Tomatoes | Summer is Back For a Limited Time at Hannaford!

Our fans are always telling us that what they love most about our greenhouse-grown tomatoes is that we deliver that “taste of summer” to them during the times they can’t grow their own. Of all the hundreds of different varieties of summer tomatoes out there, it's the heirlooms – with their wild colors, freaky shapes and odd sizes – that have exploded in popularity within the last few years.

Thanks to a special request from our friends at Hannaford, and a successful test last summer, we’re proud to announce that our own line of Specialty Tomatoes will be available at select Hannaford stores throughout Maine and New Hampshire beginning November 19! Look for the box below in the produce section, the official heirloom display that helps to minimize the handling of these softer tomatoes.

Now that you know what our Specialty Tomatoes look like, let’s talk about what they taste like. They ALL have that unmistakable burst of summer flavor that only comes from a fresh tomato – here’s what our customers told us about each variety, during last summer taste test:

Yellow = Margold: Our customers identified this tomato as the sweetest and the one they would most likely chop into a salad.

Red = Marbonne: Most often identified as the best “slicing tomato” of the bunch. Customers pictured the Marbonne on their favorite sandwiches. The robust flavor and dense texture definitely support that idea!

Brown = Marnero: The first variety to ripen in the greenhouse, it also has the richest, earthiest flavor. Our customers envisioned using our Marnero variety in sauces, however acknowledge that it delivers a flavorful experience no matter how you slice it!

Heart-shaped = Cauralina: The variety udged to be the “most versatile” goes to the tomato that also has the most interesting shape. The Cauralina has a delightful flavor that’s neither sweet, nor robust. It’s just a great-tasting tomato that you can slice, chop, or as one customer said, “eat it just like an apple”.

If you’re wondering why we’re calling these “Specialty Tomatoes” and not “Heirloom Tomatoes,” there’s a reason for that.

If you search the Internet for “heirloom tomatoes,” you’ll find passionate growers who can trace their seeds back to specific regions and through generations of families. However, you can also find tomato experts who talk about the liberties taken with the term “heirloom” in the form of “commercial,” “created” and “mystery” varieties. It’s a very gray area, with no governing body or organization like the FDA in charge of setting a clear standard. At Backyard Farms, we don’t like gray areas – we like 100% certainties. The seeds we use to grow the Specialty varieties come from Gautier Semences, a third-generation family-owned seed company located in the heart of French tomato country, Provence. And as Eric Barneron of Gautier Semences explained to us, the seeds we use are, “hybrids that we bred to have the same look and taste as population tomatoes but adding some resistances so the plants are better adapted to professional growers".

Could we call these tomatoes “heirlooms?” Technically yes, since they come from a family-owned business and look and taste just like “true heirlooms”. But after talking it over with our growers, crop care workers, and customers, we came to the conclusion that the term “heirloom” should be reserved for seed growers like Burpee who have written great articles on the topic. In the end, we decided we should call our newest product what Gautier Semences calls them: Specialty.

Whatever you call them, we hope you’ll give these delicious new tomatoes a try at a Hannaford near you! We’d also love to see photos of the dishes you create with them, like the amazing tomato salad with sashimi tuna that Executive Chef Jacky Fancois of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel made for us last summer.

Be sure to share your photos on our Facebook or use our #AlwaysTomatoSeason hashtag on Instagram for your chance to win free tomatoes as our Fan of the Month!