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You can’t beat a perfectly ripe tomato! If you have good tomatoes, keep it simple and enjoy those sunshine flavours in a simple salad. They can be made into sauces, added to pasta or pizza, or made into soup. They’re also really tasty eaten on their own with a few basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
WATCH: The best tomato & chorizo salad
READ: A guide to Italian tomatoes
WHAT ARE TOMATOES?
You can’t beat a perfectly ripe tomato! They’re delicious eaten raw or cooked in savoury dishes. They’re the most widely grown fruit on the planet. They grow as far north as Iceland and as far south as the Falkland Islands. Tomato seedlings have even been grown in space! There are more than 1000 different tomato varieties, in a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. You can find yellow, orange, purple and even striped tomatoes. When they first arrived in Europe from South America in the 16th century, these early tomatoes looked like small, yellow apples. This explains why they are called pomodoro in Italy, which literally translates as ‘golden apples’.
WHEN ARE TOMATOES IN SEASON?
Tomatoes are in season from June to October, but they really peak at the end of August and early September. Choose tomatoes that smell fresh and are heavy for their size – this means that they are full of delicious juice. Avoid any that have blemishes or squashy bits.
HOW TO STORE TOMATOES
Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. Refrigerating can change the texture and make them a little floury.
What are the health benefits?
Tomatoes are a source of vitamin C, which keeps our immune system working properly so we can fight illness and flu. One medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes count as one of your 5-a-day (one portion of veg or fruit is 80g raw weight).
How to Make Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Normally, the thought of dried food does not bring to mind a gourmet meal. However, a relatively small amount of sun-dried tomatoes gives a gourmet touch and a burst of flavor to a variety of recipes. Easy to make, store, and use at home, this is an item you may wish to consider a staple in your pantry.
During the drying process tomatoes can lose anywhere from 88 to 93% of their original weight talk about water retention! Italians have been sun drying tomatoes on their ceramic rooftops for centuries as a way to store tomatoes for the winter months. This is also why so many Italian recipes call for sun-dried tomatoes. Italians weren't the only ones who stored tomatoes this way. The Aztecs were also using salt and the sun to help dry and cure this produce for the offseason.
15 Recipes to Make the Most of Juicy Heirloom Tomatoes
Tomatoes are the essence of summer, and heirloom tomatoes the best of the bunch. Here's how to make the most of your farmers' market haul, and savor the season's colorful crop well past August.
Heirlooms are tomatoes (or other plants) grown from seeds handed down over generations. They are open-pollinated, meaning they produce seeds that resemble the parent plant, which not always the case with commercial hybrids. Hybrid tomatoes are often bred for durability, so they can be shipped. Heirloom tomatoes are more diverse. Traditionally they were bred for flavor, and their apperances vary widely some are small and some extremely large. Heirloom tomatoes also come in a veritable rainbow of shades, not just bright red to pinkish tones but all the way through orange and yellow to striped and ombré colorings. Their names are attractive, too: Brandywine, Purple Cherokee, Green Zebra, Kellogg's Breakfast, and Nebraska Wedding are just a few of the heirloom tomatoes available as seed to grow your own or to buy at the farmers' market.
When shopping for heirloom tomatoes look for plump fruit without bruises or decay as you would with any tomatoes. Heirlooms are more susceptible to cracking, but as long as the cracks are healed (meaning you can't see the flesh), the blemish won't affect taste or safety. Once home, store tomatoes on the counter&mdashnot in the refrigerator&mdashfor a day or two. So, what are the best ways to enjoy this tasty summer staple? Let heirloom tomatoes shine in simple, sunny salads like our Tomato and Beet Salad. You can also use heirloom tomatoes for appetizers made for sharing, such as tartines or bruschetta. And if you're hosting brunch, you can't go wrong with our Bloody-Mary Tomato Salad.
- 4 (1/2 inch) slices green tomato
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup cornmeal
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
Place tomato slices onto a rack over a paper towel. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and let slices stand for 15 minutes for the salt to draw out extra juices.
Mix cornmeal and bread crumbs together in a bowl stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Beat eggs with milk in a separate bowl. Place flour into a third bowl.
Pat tomato slices dry with paper towels. Lay slices, one at a time, into flour flip to coat both sides and let slices rest in the flour for about 30 seconds. Remove each slice and dip in egg mixture, then into cornmeal mixture, coating both sides of each slice thoroughly. Spread crumbs onto all sides and into tomato crevices with a fork. Rest tomatoes on rack for 10 minutes to let coating set.
Combine sweet pickle relish, mayonnaise, and hot sauce in a small bowl to make the remoulade sauce.
Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat heat vegetable oil with butter until butter melts, bubbles, and makes a sizzling sound. Fry tomatoes in the hot butter-oil mixture until tomato slices are slightly soft and coating is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Use a spatula and a fork to flip.
Transfer fried green tomatoes to a serving platter and serve with remoulade sauce.
Use up a tomato glut with our best recipes, including healthy and vegetarian options. Featuring easy salads, fresh salsas, rich soups and hearty mains.
Fennel, roast lemon & tomato salad
Combine roasted lemon with fronds of fennel, cherry tomatoes, pomegranate and herbs to make this colourful summer salad. It makes a perfect sharing dish
Ultimate tomato salsa
Make this tasty salsa in just 5 minutes with tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime, coriander and white wine vinegar
To make the tastiest tomato soup you’ll ever experience wait until the tomatoes are at their most ripe and juicy, around September
Tomato & chickpea curry
Want to use up the cans cluttering up your cupboards? This satisfying veggie chickpea curry is made in four easy steps and counts as three of your five-a-day
Baked tomato, gruyère & potato gratin
Layer up sliced potatoes and tomatoes with a cheesy, creamy sauce, then top with walnuts and breadcrumbs for a vegetarian bake
Poached eggs with broccoli, tomatoes & wholemeal flatbread
Protein-packed eggs with antioxidant-rich broccoli make this a healthy and satisfying breakfast choice
Make our simple tomato bruschetta as a classic Italian starter. Ideal for a summer gathering with friends, this easy dish is fresh, tasty and full of flavour
Omelette pancakes with tomato & pepper sauce
Healthy, low-calorie and gluten-free - these herby egg 'pancakes' will become your go-to favourite for a quick midweek meal
Halloumi with tomatoes & pomegranate molasses
Salty halloumi cheese, sweet pomegranate molasses and fresh mint make a delicious combination in this quick Lebanese meze dish
Use as many or as few tomatoes as you like, roast for a couple of hours then pack into jars with herbs and olive oil
This Indian chopped salad makes a fresh and flavourful addition to a sharing or buffet spread with tangy red onion, cumin and coriander
Slow-cooked vine tomatoes with garlic
Enjoy slow-cooked vine tomatoes with garlic as a summer side dish. Woody herbs like thyme, rosemary or bay can also be added to flavour the oil
Tomato, burrata & broad bean salad
Chop up tomatoes, toss with salt, top with creamy burrata and slather with a broad bean-flecked salsa verde to make this simple yet super-tasty salad
Harissa roasted tomatoes with couscous
Flavour versatile couscous with mint, parsley and almonds, then serve with chilli-spiced roasted tomatoes and a garlic yogurt sauce
Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce
Bashing tomatoes, chilli, sugar and shallots together in a pestle and mortar helps to bring out the flavours for a delicious no-cook pasta sauce. Make it more indulgent with creamy burrata cheese
Tomato & melon salad
A lovely light starter that is superhealthy and all of your five-a-day in one bowl!
How to Dice Tomatoes
Step 4: Place tomato on cutting board.
Step 5: Carefully pinch the top of the tomato skin. You will notice it feels lose on the tomato.
Step 6: Peel the skin down on all sides of the tomatoes.
Continue to do this to all your tomatoes.
Step 7: Twist or cut off the peels where it meets at the other top. Now you will have a pile of tomatoes and a pile of skins. You can set aside the skins to compost them.
Step 8: Dice the tomatoes up into small sizes. I cut them to about the same size as they would be in cans. Do you see all the juices that came out of the tomatoes? Make sure you keep all these juices and put them in the saucepan below. These juices are like gold!
Step 9: Add your tomatoes and spices to a large saucepan. Now you&rsquore going to cook them over medium high heat to a boil. Then you will simmer then for 10 more minutes.
Step 10: The diced tomatoes are done! Remove from heat.
Now you have a few options. You can eat them right away, throw them in a mason jar and refrigerate to serve tomorrow, or freeze them to use in a few months.
If you&rsquore going to eat them right away, then serve them on up however you plan on using them!
How to Can Tomatoes
As summer's heat wanes, farms and gardens bring in the yearly bounty of tomatoes. When tomatoes peak, their abundance can be overwhelming, so preserving them is an excellent way to enjoy their bright flavor throughout the year.
For best results, you'll want tomatoes with a high amount of meat, such as plum or San Marzano, and you'll want them just ripe. Discard any bruised or overripe fruit or extremely under-ripe fruit.
Processing tomatoes is moderately labor-intensive, but will go much easier with some forethought and planning. In order to get a good batch of crushed tomatoes or purée, you'll need to take the following steps, which we'll break down in a photo step-by-step and below:
- Core and score
- Blanch and shock
- Skin, seed and crush (or purée)
In addition, you'll need some equipment. For approximately 20-22 pounds of tomatoes, you'll need seven quart-size mason jars with rings and new, unused lids a ladle a wide-mouth funnel a pair of jar tongs and a couple cooling racks set over towels. You'll also want a pressure canner.
Unlike pickles and most fruit preserves, tomatoes are comparatively low in acidity, and so must be acidified in order to be canned using the standard water-bath method. Foods with a pH higher than 4.6 can harbor botulism bacteria spores tomatoes are generally right around 4.5, so you're playing with fire if you do not bring the acid level up. Moreover, if you add anything to your tomatoes, such as onions, garlic or basil, you are lowering the acidity further.
Water boils at 212 degrees Farenheit at sea level this is not sufficient to kill off the botulism spores. By raising the pressure in the cooking environment, you raise the temperature at which water boils. By raising the pressure to 11 pounds, you raise the boiling temperature to about 240 degrees Farenheit, which will kill off the spores.
So, if you intend to do much canning of low-acid foods such as tomatoes, stocks or meats, you may want to invest in a pressure canner. Modern pressure canners are easy and exceedingly safe to use, and you will be able to rest easy knowing that your canned goods are free of toxins.
Core and Score
Using a small paring knife, cut out the tough core of the tomato, then score the bottom.
Blanch and Shock
Set a large pot of water to boil keep a cooler full of ice water nearby. Submerge the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds, until the skins wrinkle and split. Remove them to the ice water. Depending on how many tomatoes you are processing, you may need several changes of ice water, as the hot tomatoes will quickly melt the ice.
Skin, Seed and Crush
Set up a workstation with three positions: A large bowl or pot, another large bowl or pot with a sieve over it, and a pot large enough to capture the tomato pulp for cooking. Remove each tomato from the ice bath. Peel the skin away and cast that into the first bowl or pot. Over the sieve in the second bowl or pot, tear open the tomatoes and remove the seeds and liquid from the chambers. Move to the third pot and crush the tomato pulp with your hands in it. This is where it will be most apparent whether tomatoes are too under-ripe, as the skins will not want to come away, and the fruit will be too hard to open and crush.
Using a spatula, massage the seeds in the sieve to extract the water. The seeds will retain some gelatinous exterior. Discard the skins and seeds, reserving the tomato water. This can be used much in the same way as a stock, e.g., a base for soups or braises, and is very flavorful.
Alternatives: For a purée, place tomato pulp into a food mill over the third pot, and purée it into the pot. For tomato juice, place skinned tomatoes (with seeds) into a food mill over the third pot (no second pot necessary in this case) and purée.
Place the pots of your crushed tomatoes (or purée) and water on the stove. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat. Simmer the crushed tomatoes until they break down.
Meanwhile, have your pressure canner filled to the 3-quart line and over a high flame.
When the water in the canner is at least 180 degrees Farenheit but not quite boiling, submerge your jars, lids, rings, funnel, ladle and jar tongs (a lid caddy is a handy tool for this). If you are preparing a large number of jars, you can run them through the dishwasher (provided it sterilizes), then keep in a 220 degrees Farenheit oven until ready. Keep everything hot until just before you're ready to can.
Remove as many jars, lids, etc., as you will can at once (a 23-quart canner can handle seven quart jars). Stuff a sprig of basil into each jar, if desired. Ladle the tomatoes through the wide-mouth funnel into each jar, leaving about 1/2" headroom at the top.
Insert a clean spatula, knife or chopstick, and "bubble" the contents, wiggling it around the perimeter to dislodge any air bubbles. Using a wet paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars clean, then set the lids on top. Apply the rings, screwing on until just finger-tight. Using the tongs, lower the jars into the canner and close the lid. Keep over high heat until steam flows freely through the vent at the top continue venting for 10 minutes, then apply the valve. Keep over high heat, monitoring the pressure. When the pressure hits 11 pounds, reduce the heat to low and set the timer for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the pressure: It can go over 11 pounds, but it's best to keep the pressure as stable as possible. Moreover, if it dips below 11 pounds, it must be brought back up, and the 15 minutes started again.
When the 15 minutes are up, kill the heat and allow to cool naturally. When the pressure has fallen completely and the cover lock drops, open the canner and remove the cans with your tongs to the cooling racks. Once cool, several hours later, test the jars by removing the rings and lifting the jars by the lids. If the lids give, the seal did not set. These may be refrigerated and used right away, or the tomatoes can be reprocessed and canned using the above instructions.
Some separation may occur as the jars cool, especially for the tomato water this is normal. Purée may retain its emulsion better.
Sean Timberlake is a professional writer, amateur foodie, avid traveler and all-around bon vivant. He is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts, and has penned the blog Hedonia since 2006. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, DPaul Brown, and their hyperactive terrier, Reese. Sean is also a regular contributor on Cooking Channel's Devour. Check out his blog posts here.
How to Roast Tomatoes
Roasted tomatoes show up in many of the recipes here on le blog, in everything from roasted tomato sauce to pasta salads, in quinoa chicken bowls and on caprese appetizers, and even in breakfast frittatas.
The method is simple, but there are a few tricks I’ve learned along my tomato-loving way.
- Use a baking sheet with a lip, or a baking dish. This will contain the liquid released from the tomatoes as they cook. However, don’t be alarmed if they don’t let off much liquid. Depending on the variety and ripeness will determine how much liquid they will yield as they cook. See more below.
- Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil. This step makes clean-up a cinch.
- Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil or avocado oil so they won’t stick to the foil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper to season as they cook.
- Add whole cloves of garlic or roughly chop them if you’re feeling ambitious. If you’re discarding the garlic afterward, you can totally skip removing their papery skins, too. However, I love adding the roasted garlic and tomatoes to a blender to make the base for this roasted tomato sauce.
- Add herbs for flavor, like:
All About Tomatoes
In the plant family, the tomato is classified as a fruit (berry), but when eaten it resembles a vegetable. Raw or cooked tomatoes have a sweet, acidic flavor and a juicy flesh. Available in different sizes, shapes and colors, tomatoes can be large and round like, oval shaped as are Roma or plum tomatoes, pear shaped like pear tomatoes, or small and bite size, such as cherry and grape tomatoes. Tomatoes are available in a range of colors, such as green, yellow, red, and purple.
They are often eaten raw as a garnish for salads and appetizers, sliced thinly for sandwiches, or added to various pasta, meat, and vegetable dishes. They are also used in soups, stews, and sauces.
Fresh tomatoes are available throughout the year but most abundant at the end of the summer. They are best when freshly picked off the vine. Since fresh tomatoes are very perishable, supermarkets purchase tomatoes that have been picked when green and then forced to ripen. These tomatoes will keep longer in the supermarkets but will never have the taste and texture of a vine ripened tomato. Some markets carry vine ripened tomatoes, but at a much higher price. Home grown, vine ripened tomatoes can also be found at many farmers markets later in the summer and into fall.
When selecting tomatoes, choose those that are brightly colored, plump, heavy and whose skins are not shriveled. Avoid those with blemishes, bruises, or cracks. Ripe tomatoes should yield to light pressure, but not be too soft. If purchasing tomatoes that will not be used for a few days, select those that are a lighter red and allow them to ripen fully by storing them in a cool area out of the direct sunlight. Canned tomatoes that have been processed are available in a variety of flavors and forms. They can be purchased in the can as whole, diced, stewed, chopped, pureed, paste, or a sauce form.
Do not store ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator because this will cause them to become pulpy and lose their flavor. Store at room temperature and out of the sunlight. Ripe tomatoes should be used within a few days.
An oval, egg-shaped tomato with good flavor and thick flesh, which makes it a good tomato for sauces, cooking and canning. Since it has a lower water content, it produces a thick and flavorful sauce. It is approximately 3 inches long, an inch or two in diameter and is available as a red or yellow tomato. This tomato is also known as the Italian, Roma, paste, sauce, or saladette tomato. Plum tomatoes are grown in the United States and Mexico and are readily available.
A variety of tomato that is usually an inch or less in diameter, has a bright red or yellow color, and a sweet tomato flavor. However, the yellow variety is not as flavorful as the red variety. Cherry tomatoes are eaten raw as a snack, served as a popular addition to salads, placed as a garnish for other foods, and served sautéed or cooked lightly for a side dish.
Grape Tomato A variety of tomato that is small and round and most often used whole in salads or as a snack food and appetizer. It is generally available as either red or yellow in color and slightly smaller than a cherry or pear tomato, ranging in size from one half to almost an inch in diameter. It is closer in size to the currant tomato. Pear Tomato A variety of the tomato that is similar in texture to cherry tomatoes but milder in flavor and smaller in size with a shape like a pear. It is available in several colors, which include red, yellow or orange, and is also known as the teardrop tomato. They are served whole in salads or as appetizers and snacks. A tomato that has been sliced or cut in half and then dried in the sun (or in an oven). Drying the tomato gives it an intense, sweet flavor, that may also be somewhat tart, and a very chewy texture if completely dried and not marinated in oil. They are available fully dried without oil or dried and then softened and flavored by packing them in olive oil. Prior to being eaten, the fully dried variety can be soaked in water to rehydrate the tomato. Sun-dried tomatoes can be eaten raw as a snack or added to salads and other dishes. They are used to flavor pasta, vegetable dishes, appetizers, sauces, dips, soups, and sandwiches.
Before preparing tomatoes to eat, cook, or add to other dishes, gently wash them under cold running water. The tomatoes can be simply sliced and eaten on their own, added to sandwiches, or salads, or they can be prepared to be used in other dishes. When slicing tomatoes, it works best to use a knife with a serrated edge. Several preparation methods are shown below.
Wash tomatoes under cool running water.
Slice an "X" on the bottom of each tomato with a small utility knife.
In a large saucepan bring water to a rolling boil.
Fill a large mixing bowl with ice cold water.
With a large spoon, place tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skin.
Remove tomatoes after 30 seconds, place directly into cold water to stop the cooking process. Core the tomatoes by removing the stem with a paring knife. Peel away the skin, being careful not to injure the flesh of the tomatoes. For recipes that require seeds be removed from the tomatoes, follow the procedures shown.
Cut out the stem and core from the tomato and then slicing the tomato crosswise, cut it in half.
With a teaspoon, carefully remove seeds from each chamber of the tomato or gently squeeze the tomato for the seeds to be removed. Remove the seeds from both halves of the tomato and discard the seeds when finished.
Slice off the top of the tomato. With a small teaspoon (1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon), or small melon baller, scoop out the inside of the tomato. Fill with prepared stuffing or favorite dip.
How to Dehydrate Tomatoes
Dehydrating tomatoes is a process that slowly removes the moisture from tomatoes. This process preserves the tomatoes and allows them to be stored for a longer period of time. The dehydrating process can be done in a conventional oven or in a dehydrator. Use ripe meaty tomatoes when dehydrating.
Tomatoes can be dried with the skins removed or with the skins left on. To remove the skins, see the instructions above for Remove Tomato Skins. If leaving skins on, just remove the stem and core. Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. If drying cherry or plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and make a slit in the middle of the skin side to help the dehydrating process.
Place tomatoes on cooling racks in a baking pan to allow air to circulate around the tomatoes. Place halved cherry and plum tomatoes with the skin side down on the rack. Leave 1/2 to 1 inch of space between tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Preheat oven to 120º-150º F. Place racks of tomatoes in oven and leave oven door slightly open to help moisture escape.
Drying will take anywhere from 10-18 hours, depending on air circulation. Rotate the the baking pans between the top and bottom rack through out the drying time to help the tomatoes dry evenly. Slices can also be turned over to the other side to help the tomatoes dry more evenly.
Place tomatoes on the trays of the dehydrator. Place halved cherry and plum tomatoes with the skin side down on the rack. Leave 1/2 to 1 inch of space between tomatoes to allow for sufficient air circulation. If the dehydrating unit has several layers of trays, fill as many trays as necessary but be sure to leave 1 to 2 inches between the trays when they are stack. Season with salt and pepper if desired. If dehydrator has a thermostat, set it between 135° to 145°F.
Drying will take anywhere from 6-18 hours, depending on the number and thickness of tomatoes. Rotate the the trays from top to bottom through out the drying time to help the tomatoes dry evenly. Slices can also be turned over to the other side to help the tomatoes dry more evenly.
Remove the tomatoes as they dry. They should be dried but still slightly pliable. The tomatoes can get scorched so start watching them more closely towards the end of the drying time. Cool and store in airtight containers or a resealable plastic bag. Store in a cool dark place. It is recommended that they be stored at 52º F or less. If stored properly, they can be stored for 6-9 months. If you plan to store for a longer period, packaged them in a heavy well sealed bag with as much air removed as possible or in an airtight container and place in the freezer for up to one year.
Dehydrated tomatoes can be rehydrated by adding to soups and stews, or they can be soaked in some type of liquid, such as water, bouillon or wine. They generally need to soak for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Hot liquid will speed the rehydrating process. If they are going to be soaked for a period longer than 2 hours, they should be refrigerated.
Tomatoes can be frozen whole, in chunks or as juice. If frozen properly, they can be stored in the freezer for approximately a year. When frozen whole tomatoes or chunks of tomatoes are thawed, they do not remain solid and are not suitable for sandwiches or salads. However, frozen tomatoes are a delicious addition to foods such as pasta sauces, chili, and other soups. Shown below are some processes used for freezing tomatoes.
Freezing Whole or Chunks of Tomatoes
Remove skin from tomatoes as shown above in Remove Tomato Skins.
Tomatoes can be frozen whole, chopped or sliced. After removing the skin, cut the tomatoes into the desired size. Place tomatoes into a freezer bag, remove as much air from the bag as possible, seal and freeze. It is best to use the tomatoes within one year. Be sure to label and date your freezer bag.
Note: When freezing whole tomatoes, you can wait to remove the skins when they are thawed after freezing. Remove the stem core and freeze the tomatoes individually on a cookie sheet. Once they are frozen solid, place them in a sealable freezer bag. When ready to use, remove as many tomatoes as needed and run water over them. The skins should peel off easily.
Freezing Tomato Juice What You Need:
- 4 medium size raw tomatoes
- ½ medium onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
- Optional: Fresh garlic cloves, to taste
- Optional: Oregano, to taste
Prepare fresh ingredients:
- Peel and core tomatoes as shown under Remove Tomato Skins.
- Remove stem, ribs and seeds from one green bell pepper and cut into strips.
- Cut one half of a medium onion into quarters.
- If garlic is to be added, remove the skin from the number of cloves desired.
Simmer to desired consistency. As more liquid is boiled off, the tomato sauce will become more red in color.
Allow tomato sauce to cool and package in airtight freezer bag or container. When placed in an airtight freezer bag and frozen flat, pieces can be broken off and used as needed. It is best to use the tomatoes sauce within one year. Be sure to label and date your freezer bag.
Tomatoes can be broiled, roasted, stewed, sautéed, fried, and cooked in other food dishes. After cooking, tomatoes can be eaten on their own as a side dish or appetizer. They can also be added to sauces, soups, stews and other savory dishes. Some common cooking methods are shown below.
- Core tomatoes, cut in half crosswise and place on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with desired seasoning, such as salt, pepper, garlic and parsley.
- Place in the oven 4 to 6 inches away from the broiler heating unit.
- Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Core tomatoes and cut in half lengthwise or crosswise.
- Place the tomatoes in a sealable plastic bag and add enough extra virgin olive oil to sufficiently coat them.
- Turn sealed bag until all tomatoes are well coated.
- Place tomatoes skin side down on a baking sheet. Arrange so there is a small amount of space between the tomato halves.
- Place in an oven preheated to 350°F and cook until tomatoes are bubbling and slightly browned, generally 45 to 60 minutes.
- Peel skins from tomatoes, cut out the core and chop tomatoes into pieces. See Tomato Preparation.
- Place the prepared tomatoes in a saucepan.
- For approximately 2 pounds of tomatoes, add 1 tbsp. of butter, 2 tsp. of sugar, 1 tsp. of salt, and pepper to taste. If desired, other ingredients can be added, such as garlic, onion or green peppers.
- Cover and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 4 to 5 minutes.
- Cut tomatoes crosswise into thick slices.
- Season with salt, pepper and desired herbs.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
- When oil is hot add tomato slices.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until tomatoes are just softened and lightly browned. Turn often and do not overcook.
Wash tomatoes under cold running water. Core tomatoes by removing the stem with a paring knife. Do not remove the skin. Slice into 1/2 inch slices.
- 1 Stick of real butter
- Plump, ripe tomatoes
- Salt and Pepper, optional
- Additional seasonings as desired
- Mayo and/or ranch dressing, optional
Distribute slices of butter into frying pan. Preheat pan to low/medium, melting butter. Be careful not to burn the butter.
Dredge both sides of the tomato slices in flour. Place floured slices in the frying pan with the heated butter. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the tomatoes when they have turned a golden brown. Remove when second side has turned a golden brown and place on a paper towel to remove excess butter. Serve with mayo or ranch dressing if desired.
- It is best to boil tomatoes with the skin, this will help retain the shape of the tomato.
- Avoid cooking in an aluminum pot, the tomato will develop an unpleasant metal taste which can also be harmful to the person consuming the tomato.
- When cooking tomatoes, adding a little sugar or honey will decrease the acidity of the tomatoes.
- To remove juices from cooked tomatoes, allow them to sit overnight in a bowl in the refrigerator. The juices will rise to the top and can then be spooned off.
Beginning at the top of a tomato, peel the tomato skin with a sharp utility knife. The garnish works best if the peel is ¾" to 1" wide, is a continuous peel, and the peel is thin with very little flesh attached.
Lie peel flat with flesh side up. Roll up the peel.
Set peel on plate and allow it to open. If needed, shape the peel to resemble an "opening rose". For finishing touch, add mint sprigs.
How to Stew Tomatoes
The autumn bounty of homegrown garden tomatoes by the bushel almost seems unfair because there are often too many to use before they spoil. Imagine the bright, flavorful goodness of a wedge of ripe tomato as the side dish for your scrambled eggs, grilled ham and cheese sandwich or dish of Welsh rarebit. Instead of being a seasonal pleasure, you can have the intense flavor and sun-seasoned goodness of tomatoes from your own garden all year long.
Clever cooks have come up with some fast, sophisticated and diabolical ways to make tomatoes a year-round staple, but none packs more flavor and comfort food appeal than stewed tomatoes. The concept is simple: clean tomatoes, cut them into sections, add a few flavor enhancers like salt, pepper and sugar, and cook them long enough to for their flavors to deepen. Twenty minutes at a light simmer will do it, but some seasoned cooks make it an all-day affair to give their stewed tomatoes added richness and depth.
Stewing tomatoes is a wonderful way to turn a big tomato harvest into hearty winter fare or the secret ingredient in prepared spaghetti sauces, stews, minestrone or chili. Once prepared, stewed tomatoes will hold well in the fridge for a few days. They're a great canning and long-term freezing candidate, too. If your tomatoes are plump, juicy and ready for a makeover, you can stew them to perfection either on the stove, in the oven or in a slow cooker. You'll be surprised at how easily you can integrate soft, succulent fresh stewed tomatoes into your recipes. They'll keep their vivid flavor and make a lively addition to your cooking ingredient arsenal.
Tips for Stewing Tomatoes
Stewing tomatoes is easy, but there's some prep involved. To transform those red beauties, you have to clean and peel them first. If you've ever tried to peel a ripe tomato, you'll understand why knife manufacturers everywhere regard tomatoes as a unique challenge. For a shiny layer that looks thinner than a sheet of paper, tomato skins are tough. Loosening the skins before trying to coax them off makes the job much easier.
The most popular method is to drop fresh tomatoes in boiling water for up to a minute and then transfer them to a bowl of ice water. The heat quick-cooks the thin membrane under the tomato skin, making it easy to slip the entire tomato out of its natural packaging with a simple tug. The cold water stops the boiling process and chills the tomato fast so it's easier to handle.
When you're peeling tomatoes using a boiling bath, a big slotted spoon or spider is a good accessory to have on hand. Either will let you to immerse and retrieve tomatoes without splashing. You'll also want the water at a rolling boil. Add tomatoes a few at a time, and leave them in for 40 seconds to a minute. After you've done a few, you'll be an expert at the timing involved. Try not to put too many tomatoes in at once they'll drop the water temperature and you'll have to keep them in water longer. It'll also throw off your schedule, making it harder to judge doneness.
Once the tomatoes have chilled, the skins will almost slide off. After a quick dip and peel, you'll be ready to core the tomatoes and discard the tough parts (if there are any) and cut the pulp into four or six wedges, depending on the size of the tomato. If you hate eating tomato seeds, this would also be a good time to remove them with a teaspoon or your trusty thumb.
We should note here that Roma tomatoes are among the meatiest tomato varieties. Along with plum and paste tomatoes, they're excellent candidates for stewing and many other cooked tomato dishes. If you didn't grow them in your garden this season, put them on your list for next year. This time around, use whatever tomatoes you have on hand. If they're a bit watery, you can cook them a little longer to thicken them up.
The tomato is the king (or queen) of home-grown veggies, and adulterating this distillation of tomato flavor with lots of other ingredients seems wrong somehow. With a little butter or olive oil in the pan to avoid initial sticking problems and some salt and pepper to taste, you can make a basic stewed tomato dish worthy of a Sunday buffet. We may be in the minority here, though, because there are lots of stewed tomato recipes around that incorporate other vegetables and a cabinet full of spices to make this one note dish more of a concert than a solo performance. On the next page, we'll take a look at a few potential stewed tomato ingredients you may want to introduce into your homemade recipe if you think your dish needs some tweaking.
If you haven't been keeping up on tomato innovations in recent years, you'll be surprised at the wealth of tomato varieties available from seed that you'll never see at your local market. From heirloom tomato varieties your grandmother may have used, to pink and yellow tomatoes that boast low acid content, and even a tomato with green zebra stripes, the world of tomatoes is tastier and more colorful than ever before. Learn what you need to know about the love apple with our quick primer: Types of Tomatoes.
Other recipe ideas with tomatoes:
4. There is a children's joke about how you can tell whether there has been an elephant in your fridge. By the footprints in the butter, in case you are interested. Well, you could always tell when my late father had made himself at home by the trail of crumbs and bits of tomato. He had no shame and would quite happily potter about in someone else's kitchen foraging for bread or crackers and tomatoes. A grinding of pepper and a little olive oil to top it all off. Cheese would be lovely too, but possibly a case of gilding the lily. So famous was my father for this simple pleasure that we thought he had invented tomatoes-on-toast!
5. Continuing the theme of tomatoes with bread, the Italian bread salad, panzanella is definitely worth a try too. It is the perfect picnic salad, full of Mediterranean flavours.
6. Cod "Marie Chiaro" is a sunny Mediterranean-influenced recipe from Food52 that cooks fish with a few tomatoes with black olives, capers, fresh basil and oregano.
7. Becca of Amuse Your Bouche makes a wonderful aubergine and tomato salad
8. Malaysian egg sambal is a simple dish of deep-fried eggs in a spicy and delicious sauce. Once you've tried these, you'll never go back to plain hard-boiled eggs again!
9. Every so often you see a recipe that just stands out as something so clever, yet simple. Lindsey Bareham's ultimate tomato sandwich is one of those recipes it just speaks of gracious living and hot summers.
10. Nigel Slater's lamb steaks with tomato, ginger and basil are quick and easy, and a lovely contrast in flavours.
11. If you can track down some middle eastern dried limes, then I can't recommend Yotam Ottolenghi's Iranian vegetable stew highly enough!
12. Sagegreen of Food52's German onion pie topped with tomatoes for a summery topping.
13. Jacqueline Roll of How to Be a Gourmande has a fabulous salad with lentils, tomatoes and my favourite squeaky cheese (that's halloumi!).
15. Why did the priest faint? Depending on whom you believe it is either because olive oil is so expensive or more likely that aubergines stuffed with tomatoes taste so delicious!
16. I love this clever idea for tomato "sushi" from Charles Price of The Taste of Oregon.
17. I make a squashed tomato stew to accompany meatballs, and use the vine as well, which imparts a mild clove flavour to the sauce. (Remove the vine and stems before serving!)
19. Felicity Cloake's perfect chicken caccciatora is one of those fabulous dishes that would be soothing on a cold autumn night, but light enough for warmer weather too. As Felicity herself says: "It's also nice with a salad at this time of year, or polenta or rice to make it into a more substantial meal."
20. Veggie blogger, Jacqueline Meldrum makes these fabulous party bites of balsamic cherry tomatoes with pesto. Simply done, but very impressive.
22. Urvashi Roe of The Botanic Baker (and Great British Bake-Off fame) has a gorgeous baked tomato with masala coconut recipe.
23. Camel Community Supported Agriculture's website has some lovely seasonal recipes, particularly this recipe of grilled courgettes, tomatoes and white beans with a basil sauce.
24. Karen Burns Booth, of Lavender and Lovage, is a blogger and photographer, who runs a cookery school in south-west France and has this fabulous dish of lemon chicken with cannellini beans, rosemary and tomatoes - lovely for summer, but perfect all year around.
25. This tomato dipping sauce is my favourite new thing this summer, from party or picnic food to stirring through hot pasta. Just fresh tomatoes and sundried ones in a vinaigrette dressing with parmesan cheese. It is completely moreish!
27. Christine Mansfield says of her sweet and sour tomato recipe, that it epitomises the food of the desert - that's the desert of Rajasthan, India.
28. Rupert Kirby, of Casa Rosada in Portugal, showcases two lovely salade nicoise recipes, one is authentic and one is what he calls "bogus". They are both delicious!
29. If you're interested in foraging and permaculture, then Carl Legge's sustainable blog is the one for you. His homemade pasta rotolo with nettles and tomatoes is a delightful showstopper.
30. While most of today's recipes have been what to do with a few tomatoes, should you have a homegrown glut on your hands, then try Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats' spicy sungold tomato ketchup recipe, for a taste of summer all year around.
31. Should you have a lot of very ripe tomatoes, can I recommend this Curry Mary recipe - a spicy twist on the classic cocktail and hangover cure. (It is said that since tomatoes contain potassium, that this helps to alleviate the symptoms of a hangover. I couldn't possibly comment!)
32. Technically, tomatoes are actually a fruit. In fact, in my house, we probably eat them like sweets. In parts of China, you can find street food stalls selling long sticks threaded with haws, tomatoes or strawberries coated in caramel. So you might be interested in candying your own tomatoes to see if you like them. Think of it as like a toffee apple but with tomatoes!
So how would you use up a few tomatoes? They are an essential component of the traditional English fry-up, but should I have looked further away to the home of tomatoes in South America?
Rachel Kelly is the Guardian home cook of the year 2013. Read more on her website or follow her on Twitter @MarmadukeS.
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