Tomatoes

Tomatoes

With their rich flavor and mild acidity, tomatoes have worked their way into thousands of recipes. You can eat them raw in salads, salsas, or sandwiches, cook them to make sauces, stuff them and bake them, or grill them on skewers with other vegetables.


Summer is the the best season for tomatoes; those sold at other times of the year are often bland. Indeed, better cooks often prefer canned tomatoes for their sauces over fresh out-of-season tomatoes.


Select tomatoes that are brightly colored, smooth skinned, and heavy for their size. Don't refrigerate tomatoes--it ruins their flavor.


To get substitutions for tomatoes in general, click here.


Varieties:

cherry tomato
cherry tomato
These are less than an inch in diameter, perfect for adding to salads or crudité platters, or grilling on skewers. There are both red and yellow varieties.
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currant tomato
currant tomato
These are about half the size of cherry tomatoes.
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green tomato
green tomato
These are picked before they turn red. Southerners like to fry them.
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sauce tomato
sauce tomato
This tomato isn't as juicy as other tomatoes, which gives it a more concentrated flavor that works well in sauces and stews. These are also the best tomatoes for drying. You may want to remove the bitter seeds before cooking these tomatoes, but save the gel that surrounds the seeds--it's rich in flavor. Varieties include the roma tomato = Italian tomato = Italian plum tomato and saladette tomato. Sauce tomatoes are most flavorful in the summer. During the rest of the year, many cooks prefer canned tomatoes over the bland and mealy fresh tomatoes they usually find in markets.
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slicing tomato
slicing tomato
These large tomatoes are best for sandwiches and grilling. Varieties include the beefstake tomato and oxheart tomato. The red varieties tend to be more acidic than the yellow.
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teardrop tomato
teardrop tomato
Like cherry tomatoes, these are great in salads and on crudité platters.
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vine tomato
vine tomato
For best flavor, tomatoes should stay on the vine until they're fully ripened. This is a tall order for growers, who prefer to pick tomatoes while they're still green and sturdy, and then gas them with ethylene until they turn red. Vine tomatoes, on the other hand, are picked after they begin to "break" or turn red, which allows them to develop fuller flavor. Expect to pay more for the special handling required to bring these to market.
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