Making the Most of Summer's Quintessential Crop

Nothing, absolutely nothing, tastes better than a fresh summer tomato, warm from the sun and at its ripened peak. It’s hard to go wrong, but here are a couple of farmer tips for keeping tomatoes top notch!

Local is always better — they are usually ripened in the sun rather than a warehouse. No matter what kind of tomato you are buying (heirloom to grape), look for ones that are firm and without bruises. Heirloom tomatoes are very perishable, so they may have a crack or two, but don’t let this stop you. As long as they are firm, you are good to go. Finally, give a tomato a sniff. If there’s a subtle, sweet garden smell, it’s likely to have rich, sweet tomato taste.

For best flavor, keep tomatoes at room temperature — they can stay for days on a kitchen counter. Refrigeration can flatten flavor and impart a mealy texture. If you need to store a cut tomato, wrap it in plastic wrap, leave it on the counter and eat within 24 hours.

If you are cooking with fresh tomatoes, you may want to peel them first. The most common technique is to drop a tomato in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds (not longer, as the tomato might begin to cook). Remove it with a slotted spoon and gently run a paring knife along the skin. Then, place it in a bowl of ice water for a moment before peeling the skin off with the knife.

Another thought? We find that when you leave the skins on, you come to appreciate a more hearty texture in your sauces. Try this with a marinara, chili or puttanesca and see what you think.

Tomatoes are best cut with a smaller serrated knife, which slices through the skin without damaging the delicate flesh. We like to keep one handy, especially during tomato-trendy summer months.