At their juiciest during the peak of summer, tomatoes are a nutritious and flavorful kitchen-staple. Get all you need to know on which type of tomato to use when, nutritional benefits, and tips for storing!
Technically a fruit, tomatoes are used more like vegetables in cooking due to their savory flavor profile.
Native to South America, tomatoes are now grown all over the world and are a favorite with many home gardeners.
Flavorwise, tomatoes have a mix of sweet and acidic notes, with the ratio of the two varying by the type of tomato.
As with many fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are primarily water. The rest is mostly carbohydrate, including sugar and fiber.
They are also incredibly nutrient-rich, containing good amounts of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate (vitamin B9), and numerous antioxidants, including lycopene.
A type of carotenoid, lycopene is responsible for the red (or sometimes orangish-red) color of tomatoes. Some of the health benefits associated with lycopene include:
While all tomatoes and tomato products are high in lycopene, in general, the redder the tomato, the higher its concentration of lycopene.
While there are more than 15,000 varieties of tomatoes (yes, 15,000), we’ll review the 8 most common types that you’re likely to come across at the grocery store or farmer’s market.
Unripe tomatoes should be stored similar to avocados: in a brown paper bag until ripened.
Once ripe, tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. It’s also best to keep them in a single layer, rather than stacked, with the stem facing upwards.
If your tomatoes are starting to get really soft and almost mushy, you should store them in the fridge and use within 3 days.
While I haven’t noticed a difference, I have heard that allowing refrigerated tomatoes to sit out at room temperature before using helps revive some of the flavor and juices they may have lost from being in the fridge.
For this month’s Meet Your Ingredients, we’ll focus on four tomato varieties:
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