11 June 2010

How to Choose and Treat the Perfect Tomato

Gourmet that you are, you've noticed that the best imported tomatoes at your local grocery store still hang gently "on the vine." But if you want to enter the pearly gates of true Tomato Heaven, you must grow your own—or nip over to a famers' market or local grocer. If you are lucky, you will face an array of heirloom tomatoes of all colors and shapes. Which ones to pick?

First, make sure they are firm but not hard. Next, I recommend Black Prince (from our garden, pictured left), Green Zebra, Stripe German, Cherokee Purple, Ugly Tomatoes, and Early Girl, but even these are not always good; they have to be in season. If you don't like a variety, you might want to try it two weeks later.

Do NOT stick your precious tomato treasures in the refrigerator! Chilling ruins the texture (dessert tomatoes are the exception—add sugar and serve half frozen). The best savory tomatoes remain room temperature or sun-warmed until they are eaten.

Consider not cooking them. There are many delicious ways to enjoy raw tomatoes: caprese salad, in tacos, on bruschetta, in sandwiches, or even just sprinkle the tiniest amount of salt on a thick slab and cram it lovingly into your maw.

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