Considered by the French to be an aphrodisiac, the tomato was known as the pomme d’amour, or “apple of love.” American colonists (and Europeans) thought the tomato to be poisonous because of its inclusion in the nightshade family of plants, some of which are poisonous. The tomato is not a vegetable but a fruit—a berry, to be exact. Tomatoes come in a variety of sizes as well as colors, including yellow, orange and red, and can even be used and enjoyed while still green.
How to Buy
Choose nicely ripened, well-shaped tomatoes. Fully ripe tomatoes should be slightly soft but not mushy and have a rich red color.
How to Prepare
Wash tomatoes. Cut into 8 wedges or slice 1/2-inch thick. Peel tomatoes before cutting if desired. To remove skin easily, dip tomato into boiling water 30 seconds, then into cold water. Or scrape surface of tomato with blade of knife to loosen; peel.
How to Cook Conventionally
Sauté: Melt 3 to 4 tablespoons butter, margarine, olive oil or vegetable oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté‚ tomatoes in butter 3 to 4 minutes or until hot.
How to Microwave
Wedges--Do not add water. Microwave 7 to 9 minutes, gently stirring after 4 minutes, until hot. Slices--Do not add water. Microwave 5 to 7 minutes, gently stirring after 3 minutes, until hot.
How to Store
Store ripe tomatoes at room temperature and use within a few days. Don't refrigerate tomatoes; cold temperatures make the flesh pulpy and destroys the flavor. Ripen tomatoes by placing in a pierced paper bag with an apple for several days at room temperature (65° to 75° F). Don't place them in the sun.