We’ve come to that point in the summer when tomatoes take over our gardens and kitchens. I know I have personally eaten tomatoes in just about every meal, in one way, shape or form, for two weeks straight.
There is such a great selection available at most farmers markets and grocery stores now, that it’s hard to pass them up! With heirloom varieties making their way to the average person’s dinner table, it’s easy to work one into practically any recipe. Did you know that different types of tomatoes present different flavors, and can lend themselves well to certain dishes? Sometimes you can even shop by color! We were at the farmer’s market just this Saturday, and Ryan had to pry me away from the beautiful pink tomatoes (just because we already have an abundance of orange, yellow, red, and green ones). The best way to find your favorites is to experiment.
We, here at Yours is the Earth, are pro-tomato. And we’d like to encourage you to jump on board, too! But don’t just take my word for it… here are the facts.
Tomatoes are a great source of the antioxidant Vitamins C and A, which have cancer-fighting properties, and are great for overall health of the skin, bones, and eyes. They are also high in fiber, which makes them a great part of any restricted diet to control cholesterol or weight.
It’s pretty easy to tell a good tomato from a not-so-good one. When you’re at the market or the store, make sure the skin is not wrinkled or bruised, and you’re set! The best way to get tomatoes is to buy (or trade!) a lot from a local market or gardener, and preserve what you don’t use in the summer for winter use.
If you are growing tomatoes, yourself, the best way to tell if they’re ready is to gently nudge them, while they’re on the plant. If they come right off, they’re ready to eat.
If you have to pick them early for any reason (this year we’ve had quite the case of dry-rotting), store them upside-down in a paper bag, in a cool, dark place. If you fear the end of the season and have too many green or yellow tomatoes, this is a good solution. But they won’t be as sweet as they would be if they were left on the plant. So, I prefer to fry those young tomatoes! It’s a perfect southern treat, and Jamie’s got a recipe for it HERE.
Don’t store ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator, or they will get mealy. Just leave them on the counter, with room for air to circulate around them.
When the tomato growing season comes to an end, freezing them in a great way to have them for using later. I simply score the skin, blanche them, and then dunk them in an ice bath. That will make the skin really easy to peel off. Once you’ve got your whole, peeled tomatoes, simply store them flat in a freezer bag, and you’re good to go!
If your tomato abundance spurs a canning frenzy, there are TONS of resources around the web for preserving information. I would also recommend the book Food in Jars, which has a whole section dedicated to tomato preserves.