Mushroom Basket Heirloom Tomatoes
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|Food Buzz: History of Heirloom Tomatoes|
Mushroom Basket tomatoes are large, heavily ribbed and pleated fruit, averaging 8 to 16 ounces. Their skin is a deep watermelon-pink shade with cream-colored speckles. The flesh is firm with little gel and very few seeds, and the flavor is mild and sweet. Mushroom Basket tomatoes grow on short, compact plants, which produce good yields of the fruit in a thick bunch toward the center of the plant.
Mushroom Basket tomatoes are available in the summer months.
Like all tomato varieties, Mushroom Basket tomatoes belong to the nightshade family, along with potatoes, eggplants, peppers and tobacco. They are scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum or Lycopersicon esculentum. Mushroom Basket tomatoes were presumably named because the inverted tomato resembles the cap of a mushroom.
Tomatoes are well-known for containing the antioxidant compound lycopene, which may help protect against prostate cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes are also rich in vitamins A and C, and they are full of fiber. Field or vine-ripened summer tomatoes are higher in vitamin C than greenhouse tomatoes grown in the fall and winter, and fresh tomatoes have more vitamin C than when they are cooked or canned.
Mushroom Basket tomatoes are ideal for fresh eating with their sweet taste, and their unique shape makes for decorative slices. Try them in a stacked salad, sliced lengthwise and layered with avocado and mozzarella, or add the sliced tomato to sandwiches and burgers. Mushroom Basket tomatoes have also been touted as a great tomato for stuffing, due to their large size. Try stuffing with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, basil, thyme, cheese and red pepper, or cooked bacon, green peppers, cheese and egg, then bake them in the oven. Like other tomatoes, Mushroom Basket tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until ripe, after which refrigeration can slow decay.
The name ‘Mushroom Basket’ is translated from the tomato’s Russian name, Gribnoe Lukoshko. When the Gribnoe Lukoshko tomato made it’s way to the United States, it was marketed under the translated name.
Mushroom Basket tomatoes have origins in Russia. They were brought to the United States in the late 2000s, and were introduced commercially by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in 2010. Mushroom Basket tomatoes are relatively rare to find. Check with your lofarmers’ markets, or consider purchasing seed to grow yourself. Tomatoes, in general, are not hardy plants, hence they’re grown as tender annuals in the United States. They set fruit and are best-suited when the air and soil temperatures range between 60 and 70 degrees. Mushroom Basket tomatoes are often recommended for growing in a greenhouse and open ground.