Many people think of ketchup, salsa or pasta sauces when they think of tomatoes, but store-bought condiments often are filled with excess sugar and added sodium. Here’s the skinny on tomatoes, as a whole food.
Lycopene is found in the tomato skin. It’s an antioxidant that is also responsible for the beautiful red color and it may also protect against some cancers and aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Its high water content (95%) can also help keep you hydrated too. Tomatoes are also high in vitamins A, vitamin C and potassium.
Originating in Peru, tomatoes are part of the nightshade family (edible parts of flowering plants such as bell peppers and eggplants) and while it is typically prepared like a vegetable, they are actually considered a fruit because they originate from flowering plants.
While we find all tomatoes to be delicious, some are best to eat raw; others are better grilled or dehydrated. Here are 6 of our favorites!
Some beefsteaks can weigh a pound or more! The king of tomatoes, they are meaty and juicy with mild flavor, perfect for burgers or salsas. Because these have a higher water content, you may need to cook them for a long time to reach the desired consistency for your recipe.
A bit larger than a roma tomato, compari tomatoes usually are sold with the stem still attached. This tomato has a stronger taste and is ideal for cooking on the grill, baking or simmering for a marinara sauce.
Cherry tomatoes have a thin skin and are small, round and sweet. They are perfect for skewers or cooked quickly for a sauce.
Similar to cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes are smaller but have a thicker skin and texture. Flavor is on the milder side but sweet and tangy too. They hold their shape well when cooked so enjoy them raw or roasted.
These tomatoes must be bread by open-air pollination. Their color, size and shape will vary drastically, but they are full of flavor so add them to your favorite salad.
ROMA / PLUM
Italian romas are full of intense tangy flavor. They have a thin skin, but meaty flesh, few seeds and lower water content than most so this makes them ideal for making pastes and sauces. Definitely ideal for cooking and preserving. They can be roasted for 20 to 30 minutes to intensify the flavor.
A few things to remember about tomatoes:
Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes! An ugly one might be the most delicious you’ve ever tasted. They should generally be firm and heavy for their size. Tomatoes with cracked skins are ok, but skip the ones that leak juices or have any soft spots (bruising).
Fresh tomatoes have the most flavor at room temperature so it’s not necessary to refrigerate them. Temperatures below 50 degrees will turn the tomato into mush.
If the stem is attached, store the tomato upright. If it is no longer attached, store the fruit upside down.
To ripen tomatoes, store them in a paper bag to capture ethylene gas that tomatoes give off.