Summer is here, and with it comes tomato season! If you love ripe, juicy tomatoes bursting with sweet, bright flavor, now is the time to enjoy them at their absolute best. Nothing beats the taste of fresh, summer tomatoes and there are just so many ways to utilize them.
The good news is you don't have to do much to get the most flavor out of your tomatoes. The best way to enjoy them is to keep things simple and let their natural flavors shine through. They can simply be sliced and enjoyed raw with just a drizzle of good-quality olive oil and flaky salt.
Follow these simple tips for getting the most out of your tomatoes. Small things like not refrigerating them and salting them early make a big difference in optimizing texture and flavor. We'll also cover how to peel them properly, the best slicing and storage methods, essential equipment, and easy recipe ideas for how to best use them.
Follow these tips for getting the most out of tomato season:
1. Don't Refrigerate Your Tomatoes
Refrigerating tomatoes makes them mealy and flavorless because their enzymes break down at cold temperatures. Leave them at room temperature on the counter out of direct sunlight instead and refrigerate only as a last resort to prolong their life.
2. Store Them Upside Down
While it's instinct just to store tomatoes with the stem side up, they will actually last longer if you store them upside down. The bottom ripens first, so it is softest and the top is firmest. When stored on the top, it will extend its life while being stored.
3. Salt Early
Like salting meat, salting tomatoes early is also a game changer in flavor. Salting early draws out the moisture and intensifies the flavors. Lightly salt sliced tomatoes about 5 minutes before eating or using in a recipe. Learn more about which salt to use.
4. Cherry or Grape Tomatoes are Often Most Flavorful
For snacking, salads and kids, cherry and grape tomatoes are often sweeter and pack more flavor than other varieties when they aren't the best quality or ripe yet. Their small size makes them perfect for popping in your mouth raw.
5. Peel the Skin (highly recommended)
The skin of tomatoes can sometimes be thick and bitter. Peeling them results in a smoother, more elegant texture and you will be amazed with the results.
To peel, score an x in the bottom of the tomatoes with a sharp knife. Blanch in boiling water for 15-30 seconds until the skin loosens. Transfer to an ice bath then easily peel off the skin off with a paring knife.
6. Slice with a Serrated Knife
Use a sharp serrated knife when slicing tomatoes to avoid squishing them. The teeth of a serrated knife cut through the tomato skin cleanly.
7. Use a Box Grater to Easily Puree Tomatoes
Put the knife down and the food processor away because the easiest way to turn a whole tomato into pulp in just a few seconds is to use a box grater right into a bowl. Grate the bottom of the tomato first going back and forth over the coarse blade until all that is left is the skin of the tomato. This is a great way to use up over-ripe for a delicious sauce or freeze to use later.
8. Easily Slice Cherry Tomatoes Between Two Lids
Cherry tomatoes can be tricky to slice in half without squishing them and it can take a while to get through a batch. An easy time-saving method is to place as many cherry tomatoes that will fit between two round plastic lids from containers. Then, holding the lids together, carefully slice through. The lids cradle the tomatoes, making it easy to get a clean cut down the middle without them rolling away.
9. Eat Raw and Try Roasting Them
Enjoy fresh tomatoes raw in salads and sandwiches. Roasting concentrates the flavors - roast cherry tomatoes whole, slice larger varieties. Garden romas are perfect for roasting. Just quarter, remove the seeds and drizzle on a little olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting.
10. Freeze for Later
Freeze whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes in freezer bags for use in soups, stews and sauces during the winter.
11. Grow Your Own
It's not too late to plant tomatoes! Kids love to watch their plants grow and get to eat them right off the vine. Cherry tomatoes grow well in containers. Check with your local nursery for plant options.