Costoluto Genovese Heirloom Tomatoes
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Costoluto Genovese is an Italian heirloom tomato variety. Its large, aromatic, deeply ribbed fruits have dark red skin and a squat, somewhat flattened shape. Their soft flesh is juicy and meaty, offering a robust and tangy flavor. The vigorous, early-season plants reach an average of 5 feet tall and produce masses of the irregular 7-ounce fruits throughout the season.
Costoluto Genovese tomatoes are available mid-summer through fall.
Tomatoes belong to the Solanaceae family, commonly known as the nightshade family, and are scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum or Lycopersicon esculentum. Costoluto Genovese tomatoes are open-pollinated, as opposed to hybrid, meaning that their seeds will produce the same plant as the parent variety. All heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated varieties are considered heirlooms, and though there is no formal definition, the term “heirloom” is generally used to describe a variety that has been passed down over multiple generations. Still, there are exceptions for more recent varieties with exceptional qualities, especially flavor.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid, and they also contain fiber, potassium and iron. They are a famed source of the antioxidant, lycopene, accounting for about eighty percent of lycopene consumption. Lycopene gives tomatoes their rich red color, and may lower the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. Lycopene has been shown to be especially effective when eaten with fat-rich foods such as avocado, olive oil, or nuts.
Costoluto Genovese tomatoes can be used in raw and cooked applications, like grilling or broiling. They are known as an old, Italian preserving tomato, and are particularly well suited for canning and juicing. They are popular for making a hearty tomato sauce because of their rich, acidic flavor, and like other beefsteak-type tomatoes, their size and texture lends well for slicing. Costoluto Genovese tomatoes pair well with avocado, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan or Gruyère cheese, and savory herbs like basil, parsley, and oregano. They also compliment fruits like nectarines, peaches, strawberries, and raspberries, and sweet herbs like lemon balm. Like other tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until ripe, after which refrigeration can slow decay.
Costoluto Genovese tomatoes have been treasured in Italy for generations, and are a popular ingredient in family recipes for pasta sauce and paste. They were also one of the varieties planted at Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello, where he pioneered cultivation of the relatively unfamiliar fruit starting in 1809.
Costoluto Genovese tomatoes have been passed down for generations in Italy, dating back to the early 19th century. They grow particularly well in dry, hot climates like their native land along the Mediterranean.