If you haven't noticed already, I love tomatoes. I have had this love affair with tomatoes long before we grew them in our backyard. I used to stuff the little ones in my mouth like cherries and I ate the big ones like apples. After my Mom began her own vegetable garden I tasted my first homegrown tomatoes. We were hooked! Now that I have my own garden I only buy tomatoes in the Winter when I am craving a fresh tomato on a taco. Unfortunately I am usually disappointed.
To find a great tomato buy the best quality you can find or better yet, grow your own. Its very easy to grow patio tomatoes on your porch. If you can't grow them then follow these tips for finding the perfect tomato:
- Buy them in season (Summer & Fall). They are cheaper, travel through less countries and states, and taste a million times better.
- Try shopping at the farmers market where they are more likely to have been picked that day or the day before. Mega mart tomatoes are bought from farms which harvest unripe green tomatoes. These travel several states or countries away and are eventually processed in a chamber with chemicals that turn the tomatoes red. You are essentially ripening from the outside in, instead of the inside out. This makes a big difference when it comes to taste. This applies to many fruits. If you live in a place that does not have a farmer's market (check here!) try stores like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, which I find has better tasting produce then those pithy cardboard tasting things they sell in a certain gigantic mega mart. If you doubt me do a taste test. One tomato from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or Farmers market vs. a mega mart tomato. I put all my money on the smaller stores any day. Try this with peaches and you will notice an amazing difference in taste and texture.
- Look for a very red (or yellow, or orange) tomato without soft spots, blemishes or holes.
- Try organic and heirloom tomatoes which often taste better and are grown on smaller farms. Organic fruit is grown without cancer causing pesticides and herbicides and are much healthier, not to mention tastier.
- Never, ever, ever store your tomatoes in the fridge. This ruins the texture of a tomato by lightly freezing it. Tomatoes should be stored out of the bag and away from heat or bright light. I put my ripe tomatoes on a plate in the darkest corner of my kitchen counter. Eat them within 4 days.
The best recipe is the simplest.
Cut into thick slices and fan the slices out on your plate.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. I love to add a drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil and feta or mozzarella cheese, but this time I went with pure tomato goodness.
That's it! Fast, simple and delicious!