Tomatoes 101

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May. 30, 2017

What to look for when selecting:
Tomatoes that are brightly hued, plump and without bruises or blemishes are best. They should be firm, but not rock hard and have a nice, earthy tomato-y smell. They should be heavy for their size, as ripe tomatoes will have more water content. Be sure to watch for bruises or holes in your tomatoes as they will decay quickly. Avoid these ones at the grocery store.

How to store:
Store them at room temperature in an open basket if theyre ready to eat for up to a week, but if you want them to ripen faster, place them in a paper bag with an apple or an onion. Avoid storing tomatoes in a plastic bag or in the fridge as the cold causes them to turn mealy and they lose their delicious tomato flavour!

How to prepare:
Tomatoes are extremely versatile since they can be eaten fresh, in sauces, soup, salad, or even stir-fry! Wash tomatoes in cold water.
To prepare tomato slices for sandwiches, slice them horizontally with a very sharp knife (serrated/bread knives are the best). Dull knives may squish tomatoes instead of cleanly slicing through the skin.

For soups or sauces, you may want to remove the tomato skin by first scoring the bottom of the tomato with an X, then blanching in boiling water quickly for about 30 seconds. Remove and place immediately in an ice bath. Once blanched, the tomato skins loosen and are easily peeled off now theyre ready for use in sauces or soup!
For salad (or even stir fry), slice the tomatoes in half vertically and cut the stem out by slicing a V around the hard part of the stem. Continue to slice in wedges, perfect for eating on their own, in salad, or tossing in the last couple minutes of cooking a stir-fry.

There are so many varieties of tomatoes, but the general categories are globe, beefsteak, Roma tomatoes otherwise known as plum tomatoes, pear, cherry, grape, cocktail and Campari. Globe and beefsteak tomatoes are what people envision when you think of a tomato and are more commonly used for salads and sandwiches. Plum and pear tomatoes are commonly used for sauces because of their robust flavour, and cherry, grape, cocktail and Campari tomatoes are smaller and typically eaten fresh and in salads or out of hand, because of their small size, bright flavour and juicy texture.

What is the difference between heirloom and vine tomatoes:
It all comes down to the seed. Heirloom tomatoes are seed varieties that have been around for 40 to 50 years, passed on by generation. Heirloom tomatoes are absolutely beautiful and are always stunning when served. With so many different colours and subtle flavour differences, heirloom tomatoes are perfect for dishes that feature tomato flavour. Heirloom tomatoes come in a wide range of colours and shapes: brown, purple, green, pink, yellow, orange, striped, and of course, red. They come in different shapes and sizes as well: round, oval, ribbed, and squatty. Each tomato will develop in its own way to become naturally unique!