Even if you don't know the difference between a hybrid and an heirloom, tomatoes are the perfect fresh ingredient to star in your easy summer salads, sandwiches and main dishes. (And we'll fill you in on the varieties and more.)
Tomato Tips: How to Ripen, Store and More
Tomatoes taste best when they ripen naturally in the sun, still on their vines. To speed up ripening off the plant, put under-ripe tomatoes in a brown paper bag and close it up for a day or two.
Tomatoes should have a wonderful, sweet aroma. And look at the leafy, green tops: the fresher they look, the better they'll taste.
Keep tomatoes at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. With tomatoes, if the temp goes down, so does the quality: the pulp gets mushy and you lose the flavor.
Here's an quick tip for removing the tomato skins: Heat a large saucepan of water to boiling. Carefully place the tomatoes in the boiling water (don't drop them -- splashes will burn!) for 15 to 20 seconds. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to move the tomatoes into a bowl of cold water. The skins will peel right off.
To remove the core, cut a small circle around the stem end with a small knife and pull it out.
To get rid of the seeds, cut the tomato crosswise in half and gently squeeze or spoon the seeds into a bowl. Lots of recipes call for seeded tomatoes, but remember that the seeds are the highest concentration of vitamin C and flavor. Keep 'em when you can.
It couldn't be easier. To freeze fresh tomatoes, peel, seed and chop them, but don't drain the juices. Put the chopped tomatoes in plastic containers or plastic freezer bags, and freeze up to three months. You can use these frozen fresh tomatoes in any recipes that call for canned tomatoes.
Yum! To roast a tomato, insert a long-handled fork into it. Hold it over a gas or charcoal grill, turning the tomato until it's charred on all sides. Let the tomato cool enough to handle, then slide off the skin.