Plump, perfectly ripe tomatoes are one of summer’s biggest highlights. So cut one up, put it on a plate, sprinkle with some sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy as you consider these juicy tomato facts.
1. You can stop arguing whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable because it is, in a way, both: nutritionally and in culinary, it is thought of as a vegetable, but botanically speaking it’s a fruit.
2. Select tomatoes that are heavy and have a nice smell. Don’t skip over the homely irregular shaped ones, since those can often taste the best!
3. For the best flavor and texture, store tomatoes at room temperature until they are fully ripe. Once very ripe they may be refrigerated so they keep longer. Be sure to return chilled tomatoes to room temperature before eating.
4. In tomatoes, the antioxidant lycopene acts like a sunscreen from the inside out, helping your body ward off skin damage from UV rays.
5. When you cook tomatoes in oil, it increases the amount of lycopene our intestines absorb.
6. It is best to store tomatoes stem side down. This will extend their shelf life considerably and help them retain their moisture.
7. To speed tomatoes’ ripening, put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana. The fruit gives off ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening process.
8. When cutting tomatoes, use a serrated knife, which makes neat slices and helps you avoid squeezing out the juices.
9. If a recipe calls for peeled tomatoes, use a small paring knife to score the bottom of each tomato with an “X,” cutting just through the skin, but not into the flesh. Place the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and quickly plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once they’ve cooled, you can easily peel away the skins.
10. Tomatoes are great on the grill. Choose a firm variety like beefsteak so they hold up well. Add to salads, sandwiches or as a topping for chicken or meat.