Produce: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are availble year round in all sorts of colors, shapes, sizes and flavors! Let us show you how to select, store, and prepare the perfect tomato.

-Did you know there are over 7500 different varieties of tomatoes grown in the United States today? With so many colors, shapes, and sizes, it's no wonder no 2 tomatoes are exactly alike. From Beefsteaks to Romas to Cherries and Heirlooms we're going to help you shop, store, and prepare your tomatoes like a pro. The key to buying the best tomatoes is to buy them in season. Although, they're available year-round, peak season is late summer through early fall. Look for tomatoes that are brightly colored or firm and have a noticeable fragrance. They should be heavy for their size and not overly soft. When selecting tomatoes, look for signs that indicate mishandling during shipping like bruises and scrapes. Also, here's a great tip, the skin of the tomato should not wrinkle when you run your thumb on it with slight pressure. You can store your tomatoes at room temperature for 3 to 5 days until they're ripe or in a paper bag at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. After tomatoes are ripe, store them in a cool dry place. A common mistake is to store tomatoes in the refrigerator which causes them to lose both flavor and texture. When cooking with tomatoes, it maybe necessary to remove the skin and seeds. To peel your tomatoes, start by cutting an X into the skin on the bottom to allow for the skin to separate from the tomato. Then, immerse the whole tomato in boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds. Carefully transfer the blanched tomato to a bowl of ice water to speed up the cooling process and help the skin separate from the tomato flesh. Finally, peel the skin off the tomato and discard. Your tomatoes are ready to cook. To remove the seeds, simply cut the tomato horizontally. Hold the tomato, upside down, over a bowl and gently squeeze out the seeds or scoop them out with a spoon or your fingers. There are 5 main varieties of tomato sold in grocery stores, in farmer's markets across the county. Let's take a look. Beefsteaks are large, juicy tomatoes. Their thin skin makes them the perfect tomato for salsa, slicing for sandwiches or just for eating. Beefsteaks tend to have a shorter shelf life than other tomato varieties, so plan ahead when purchasing these summer favorites. Plum tomatoes are oblong in shape and tend to be denser and plushier than Beefsteaks. These tomatoes are perfect for making tomato sauce and paste and they're sometimes called sauce tomatoes in stores. Cherry, Grape, and Teardrop tomatoes are small, sweet, and juicy. Cherry and Grape tomatoes are red while Teardrops can be red, yellow, or green. These little tomatoes are a perfect snack or on salads or as an addition to summer kebabs on the grill. Heirloom tomatoes have been passed on generations for a specific look, flavor, or quality. All the classes of tomatoes have Heirloom varieties within them. But they are also sold as their own separate category. There are hundreds of Heirloom tomato varieties in every size, shape, flavor, and color. Every Heirloom tomato is as different as the next, so remember to do some research when shopping for and purchasing Heirlooms. Tomatoes are loaded with flavor and nutrition and are a perfect staple to any well-stocked kitchen. So, whether you're looking to make a fresh snack or a homemade pasta sauce, remember these tips when picking your next tomatoes.