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Chris' Culinary Adventures Heirloom Tomato edition


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Hi Everyone,

What an exciting month it has been, getting to know the local farmers, becoming a little more educated in the incredible amount of work that goes into farming, and even better yet, seeing behind the scenes passion that goes into the most beautiful fresh products Boquete has to offer. Working with fantastic quality produce that bursts with natural flavor has been enjoyable while staying focused on the simplicity of the ingredients, especially the heirloom tomatoes. I have been using the Black Krim, Hawaiian Pineapple, Brandywine and Lemon Boys.




Black Krim Tomato

Is a beautiful dark red-purple fruit, with rich sweet flavor. One of the best. It always places high in tomato taste trials. This very juicy heirloom tomato from Russia is quite a unique looking, large fruit with wonderful flavor making it a favorite among many fine chefs.


Hawaiian Pineapple Tomato

This unique 1 lb fruit with yellow-and-red mottled flesh has excellent flavor: sweet, fruity and somewhat pineapple-like in taste.


Brandywine Tomato

The most popular heirloom vegetable! (I know! I know! It’s a fruit but vegetable sounds better.) This one is a favorite of many gardeners; Its large pink 1 ½ lbs. fruit is packed with superb flavor.


Lemon Boy Tomato

Is a beautiful bright yellow color with a very smooth sweet “low-acid” flavor. While true, “low-acid” tomatoes are a misnomer (in reality, “low-acid tomatoes” simply means their sweetness masks the acidity). Regardless, just a touch of salt and Wow! Such an amazing taste.

Imagine all these unique heirloom tomatoes combined together to make an orchestra of flavors playing on your taste buds. I am pleased to say my signature heirloom soup is now being served. With my new found love for what I call "natures candy" I began thinking, what in the world is an Heirloom Tomato? I found a great article that will take about 5 minutes to read, there weren't many pictures so I added a few to enrichen your reading time. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I have.

See you soon,

Chef Chris



An heirloom is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several family generations because of it's valued characteristics. Since 'heirloom' varieties have become popular in the past few years there have been liberties taken with the use of this term for commercial purposes. At TomatoFest Garden Seeds we chose to adopt the definition used by tomato experts, Craig LeHoullier and Carolyn Male, who have classified down heirlooms into four categories:

  1. Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940, or tomato varieties more than 50 years in circulation.

  2. Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down for several generations through a family.

  3. Created Heirlooms: Crossing two known parents (either two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid) and dehybridizing the resulting seeds for how ever many years/generations it takes to eliminate the undesirable characteristics and stabilize the desired characteristics, perhaps as many as 8 years or more.

  4. Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties.

(Note: All heirloom varieties are open-pollinated but not all open-pollinated varieties are heirloom varieties.)

Where did the term "Heirloom" plants begin?

The term "Heirloom" applied to plants was apparently first used by Kent Whealy of Seed Savers Exchange, who first used "heirloom" in relation to plants in a speech he gave in Tucson in 1981. He had asked permission to use the term "heirloom" from John Withee, who had used the term on the cover of his bean catalog. John said sure, that he had taken it from Prof. William Hepler at the University of New Hampshire, who first used the term "heirloom" to describe some beans that friends had given him back in the 1940s.

The Importance of "Heirloom" Tomatoes.

In the past 40 years, we've lost many of our heirloom varieties, along with the many smaller family farms that supported heirlooms. The multitude of heirlooms that had adapted to survive well for hundreds of years were lost or replaced by fewer hybrid tomatoes, bred for their commercially attractive characteristics.

In the process we have also lost much of the ownership of foods typically grown by family gardeners and small farms, and we are loosing the genetic diversity at an accelerating and alarming rate.

Every heirloom variety is genetically unique and inherent in this uniqueness is an evolved resistance to pests and diseases and an adaptation to specific growing conditions and climates. With the reduction in genetic diversity, food production is drastically at risk from plant epidemics and infestation by pests. Call this genetic erosion.

The late Jack Harlan, world-renowned plant collector who wrote the classic Crops and Man while Professor of Plant Genetics at University of Illinois at Urbana, wrote, "These resources stand between us and catastrophic starvation on a scale we cannot imagine. In a very real sense, the future of the human race rides on these materials. The line between abundance and disaster is becoming thinner and thinner, and the public is unaware and unconcerned. Must we wait for disaster to be real before we are heard? Will people listen only after it is too late."

It is up to us as gardeners and responsible stewards of the earth to assure that we sustain the diversity afforded us through heirloom varieties.



Coming Soon to Colibri Restaurant:
Tomato Chips served with our house bread and roasted garlic clove, Heirloom Tomato Carpacio and a interesting spin on a Caprese Salad. Call 6379-1300 to reserve your Colibri experience today!!
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2 hours ago, Penny said:

Where in the Boquete area can you get these tomatoes in enough quantity for a restaurant?

The photos look like they were googled to me.

Pat and Susan Farrell once offered such goodies and more from their finca and organic greenhouse in Volcancito Arriba, but apparently could not find a sufficient market for heirloom tomatoes.  They said that Panamanians like their tomatoes plain and red. 

I noticed that their "Finca Tierra Pura" with it's absolutely beautiful brand new house, two casitas, greenhouses, etc., was listed for sale by Casa Solution in January.  The excellent YouTube video showing the property is still up, [LINK] but the listing is gone from the Casa Solution website.   The video is on of the best real estate videos I have seen, and it is great for showing the beauty of the Boquete highlands. 

Does anyone know if Pat and Susan are still in Boquete?

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14 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

David, I would suggest that you send them a personal message.

I sent a message to their old e-mail address and it didn't bounce - I'll wait to hear from them. 

Their old "www.fincatierrapuraboquete" website is gone. 

Edited by David van Harn
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