Red Lightning Heirloom Tomatoes
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|Food Buzz: History of Tomatoes|
The Red Lightning tomato is perfectly round, with a smooth, glossy red skin that is streaked with yellow stripes. The fleshy walls offer a meaty texture, while the interior holds a burst of sweet and tangy juice. The vigorous, vining tomato plants grow about five feet tall, producing a continuous harvest of the two or three inch tomatoes throughout the season.
Red Lightning tomatoes are available in the summer and fall.
The Red Lightning tomato is a variety of Solanum lycopersicum that gets its name from its showy and colorful exterior. Like all tomatoes, it is a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family. The Red Lightning tomato is categorized as a created heirloom tomato: a deliberate cross between an heirloom and a hybrid tomato. When breeding a created heirloom, the cross is stabilized over several generations so that the tomato becomes open-pollinated, and hence the new heirloom is made. A major benefit of these new heirloom varieties is their strong resistance to disease, which is purposefully bred into their genetics, although many people maintain that if an heirloom is “created” by deliberate cross-pollination, it isn’t a true heirloom.
Red Lightning tomatoes have a sweet and tangy flavor, and are great for eating fresh. Try them on their own, or use them to add a pop of color to salads. Tomatoes are especially delicious when paired with Italian flavors like oregano, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, or fresh mozzarella cheese. They also pair well with bacon, eggs, mushrooms, onion, and avocado, and can be used in a variety of delicious breakfast dishes. Store tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight until fully ripe. Refrigerate only extra-ripe tomatoes to slow the process of decay.
Burpee is an American Seed Company that has been bringing innovation to the seed market since 1881, introducing many improved heirloom varieties, such as the Red Lightning tomato, by selecting breed-superior heirloom strains. However, founder W. Atlee Burpee originally set himself up in the business of breeding poultry, which over time expanded to include other livestock, and eventually seeds and plants.
The Red Lightning tomato is an improvement on its parent variety, the Red Zebra tomato, and was created by Burpee Seed Company. Red Lightning is a tender cultivar, so wait to plant until your soil is warm and the night temperature is well above freezing.