Growing juicy tomatoes in your garden
- This late-summer fruit tastes best when allowed to naturally ripen in the sun. Ideally, they ripen slowly on the plant so that their flavor can fully develop.
- You can speed ripening by placing enclosing underripe tomatoes in a brown paper bag for a day or two.
How to buy the best tomatoes
During the growing season, we recommend visiting your local farmers market, stopping at farm stands or picking out locally-sourced tomatoes from your grocery store. The shorter the distance tomatoes travel, the better they’ll taste. You’ll know a ripe tomato when you smell a sweet aroma and spot a vibrant leafy top. Ripe fruits are also heavy for their size, because they’re so juicy.
How to store tomatoes
Once you’ve stocked up on baskets and bushels of this juicy fruit, you’ll need store it properly.
- To keep tomatoes fresh and plump, store at room temperature.
- It’s a common mistake to put tomatoes in the fridge—any temperature below 50°F will cause the flavor and quality of the tomato deteriorate.
- Bottom line, this precious summer produce belongs safely on your counter or fruit bowl.
How to prepare tomatoes
Learn these common methods of preparation to make cooking with your tomatoes simple.
How to peel tomatoes
Sauce recipes often call for peeling tomatoes, as they’re easier to cook down and make for a smoother sauce once skinned.
- To peel tomatoes for sauces or pastes, heat a large stockpot of water to boiling.
- Score your tomatoes by lightly cutting an “x” across the bottom—end without the stem—this will encourage their skins to loosen and begin to peel in boiling water.
- Carefully place scored tomatoes in the boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Transfer to an ice-water bath with a slotted spoon or tongs.
- After tomatoes have cooled to the touch, peel.
How to core tomatoes
To remove the core, cut a small circle around the stem end with a paring knife and remove. Coring tomatoes can be a useful technique for when you want to stuff your tomatoes with rice, cheese and other tasty fillings.
How to seed tomatoes
To seed, cut the tomato crosswise in half and gently squeeze or spoon seeds into a bowl. Keep in mind that it may be beneficial to a recipe, but the seeds have the highest concentration of vitamin C and boast much of the tomatoey flavor.
How to roast tomatoes
Now perhaps for the most underrated preparation method, roasting! Roasting tomatoes brings out an intense, concentrated flavor, without all the juice. Romas are particularly good for this method. Once roasted, enjoy your tomatoes with pasta, on toast, on top of chicken or shrimp—the possibilities are truly endless.
- To roast Roma tomatoes, you’ll want to turn on your oven to about 425°F.
- Line rimmed cookie sheets with foil and coat with cooking spray—you’ll be glad you did this when it comes time to cleanup.
- In a large bowl, toss halved tomatoes with olive oil and salt and arrange cut side up.
- Roast 55 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until tomatoes are charred on edges.
When you’re overwhelmed with tomatoes, sometimes the best thing you can do is freeze them for future use. Then, you can use your frozen tomatoes the same way you would use canned.
- To freeze fresh tomatoes, peel, seed and chop; do not drain.
- Place tomatoes in plastic containers or plastic freezer bags and freeze up to three months.