Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spa Girl says bring on the tomatoes, heirloom of course!

It's tomato season, one of my favourite times of the year.  Slowly each week at the market in my hometown the tomatoes are starting to appear, red ones, yellow, purple, black, green, all those delightful heirloom colours.  They were slow this year due to our chilly wet start to summer, but once again we are witness to a tomato renaissance.

Tomatoes are well known for their anti-oxidants, helping us to age more gracefully as they reduce the number of free radicals in our bodies. Tomatoes are great for both the skin and the hair, and there are many wonderful tomato facial masks and scrubs that balance soothe, refresh and brighten the skin.  They also help to preserve moisture levels in the body!

Here is a treat to get started...
Step 1Finely dice the tomato, using the knife and cutting board. Transfer the diced tomato to a bowl.Step 2Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl with the chopped tomato.Step 3Measure 2 tbsp. oats into the blender. Blend until the oatmeal is reduced to a fine powder. Stir the oatmeal powder into the tomato and lemon juice mixture. Mix well.Step 4Smooth the tomato, lemon and oat mixture onto a clean face. Avoid getting the mixture into your eyes. Lie back and relax and allow the mask to dry, 15 to 20 minutes.Step 5Rinse off the facial mask with warm water. Pat your face dry with a linen towel. 
Read more:
Over the last few years heirloom tomatoes have become the star of the culinary world, both for their amazing complex flavour and their beauty; and farmers are responding growing over 600+ varieties of these knobby multicoloured/multi floured gems.

This is a welcome reprieve from the large-scale commercial hybrid tomato breeding that took place after WWII which changed the face of the industry as they sought to create the "perfect" tomato for the mass market--large, red, disease-resistant and thick skinned.  Most of these tomatoes were picked early and force-ripened with ethylene gas.

So what is an heirloom tomato?

Pinning down an exact definition for what makes an "heirloom" can be tricky, especially as the tag heirloom becomes a marketing tool. Large seed companies have been known to "borrow" heirloom names (or at least something very close) to increase sales of hybrid. Most heirlooms have been passed down in families or communities, until they were discovered by the tomato community and preserved. The Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit organization created in 1975 in Iowa, has dedicated itself to preserving America's heirloom and heritage vegetable varieties. Similar seed exchanges operate throughout the tomato-growing world, and tomato growers regularly and enthusiastically trade seeds. Lately, commercial seed companies have also dramatically expanded their offerings of heirloom seeds—so it can be a bit confusing where the line between "hybrid" and "heirloom" cuts off. One good definition was offered by heirloom expert Carolyn Male in her book 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden:
  • Commercial heirlooms: Open-pollinated plants introduced before 1940 or tomatoes varieties that are more than 50 years old
  • Family heirlooms: Tomatoes that have been passed down through a family for several generations
  • Created heirlooms: Created by crossing two known parents (such as two heirlooms or a hybrid and an heirloom) and stabilizing the resulting offspring until they consistently reproduce true from seed
  • Mystery heirlooms: Unknown heirlooms, often created by natural cross-pollination in the field
Spa Girl Tip:  pick your tomatoes carefully, handle them with tender loving care (heirloom varieties tend to be quite fragile) and above all never, ever refrigerate them!

Tomatoes have long been used in home remedies for oily and blemish-prone skin. They contain large amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as A, C, E, iron and potassium, which help nourish the skin. Tomatoes also provide an astringent effect on the skin to help remove excess oil and refine the pores.  Here are a few great sites to explore:

No comments:

Post a Comment