Tomato, tomahto—no matter how you pronounce it, these rich red orbs spoil us at this time of year. The popularity of heirloom tomatoes is exploding, so why not try out a new variety? Find out how to maximize the antioxidant power of your selection, with delicious recipes and simple tips for storage and peeling.
Tomatoes are so plentiful this time of year. Whether you buy them at your local farmers’ market or grow your own, tomatoes are the quintessence of summer.
Although we love them for their wonderfully delectable taste, tomatoes are also packed with nutrients. One of these is lycopene; tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant compound, which has been linked, in several scientific studies, to lower rates of prostate, lung, and stomach cancer.
Though delicious—and still supremely nutritious— raw, cooking tomatoes seems to release more of the über-healthy antioxidant lycopene. This means that using cooked tomato products such as tomato paste and sauces is an excellent way to up your intake of this powerful nutrient.
Heirloom tomatoes have become increasingly popular in recent years because of their greater availability, their intense flavour, and their unique appearance. Here is a collection of mouth-watering recipes to help you utilize the bountiful harvest of tantalizing tomatoes this summer season.
- Mediterranean Chicken Salad with Spinach and Orzo
- Brown Rice Fettuccini with Crimini Mushrooms and Roasted Eggplant
- Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Almond Ricotta
- Vegan Heirloom Tomato Gluten-Free Tart with Kale, Walnut Pesto, and Wilted Spinach
Heirloom tomatoes come in many varieties with interesting shapes, vibrant colour combinations, and unique markings. You can find heirloom tomato varieties that are hollow, cylindrical, and multilobed. Some popular varieties include Green Zebra, White Wonder, Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple.
How to choose
When choosing the best tomatoes, make sure they are firm, yet soft, and bright in colour. If you happen to buy a tomato that is underripe and want it to ripen faster, place the tomato in a paper bag with a banana. As bananas ripen they produce ethylene gas; this gas speeds up the ripening process of fruits.
How to store
For maximum flavour and juiciness, tomatoes are best stored at room temperature; being in the fridge will hinder the ripening process and impede flavour and texture. If storing them in a cool place, pull them out 30 minutes before use. Tomatoes, depending on age, can keep on the counter for up to one week.
How to peel a tomato
The boiling water method is useful when you have a large batch of tomatoes to peel.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Fill a stainless steel bowl with ice water.
- Rinse tomatoes clean and remove any stems.
- Using a sharp knife, slice a shallow X into the bottom of each tomato (opposite the stem side).
- Gently place tomatoes into boiling water. If you have several tomatoes, boil them in batches of three to four at a time.
- Boil tomatoes until you see the X begin to split open a bit, about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Remove immediately using a slotted spoon and place directly into bowl of ice water to cool.
- Remove from ice water and begin peeling the skin at the X, pulling the skin back gently. If the flesh comes off or the tomato seems soft or mushy, it may have been cooked too long.