Tomato Tips

Cooking How-To, How-To, In Season, Summer
on July 6, 2012
Mark Boughton Photography

• If your tomato sauce is too acidic, add some grated carrot. It disintegrates in the sauce and adds sweetness but no hint of carrot flavor.

• Fragrance is a better indicator of a good tomato than color. Smell the stem end; it should have the garden aroma of the plant itself. If it doesn't, your tomato will lack flavor.

• Select tomatoes that are firm, glossy, smooth, plump, heavy for their size and free of bruises. Avoid tomatoes that are overly ripe and soft.

• The easiest way to crush tomatoes? Use your hands. You kids will love pitching in.

• The high acid content of tomatoes will slow the cooking process of some other food. Beans cooked with tomatoes, for example, may take up to 20 percent more time to cook than without.

• A good serrated knife is far superior to a flat-edged knife for slicing tomatoes. It you use a flat-edged knife, be sure it is very sharp or you will squash and bruise the tomato flesh.

• Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Cold temperatures can make the flesh of a tomato pulpy and will destroy the flavor. Always store tomatoes at room temperature stem-end down.

• Canned tomatoes have higher concentrations of lycopene than fresh. And orange tomatoes have a type of lycopene that is absorbed better than the lycopene in red tomatoes—two and a half times better.

• One large (6 1/2 ounce) tomato contains 33 calories, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 9mg sodium, and more than one-third of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.

• Tomatoes are actually a fruit, not a vegetable, and they were once thought to be poisonous. When the Spanish explorer Cortez brought seeds back to Europe in 1519, tomatoes were grown as ornamentals, but not eaten.