How to choose the freshest tomatoes

Tomatoes can make any meal both brighter and healthier. Discover the secrets to finding the most juicy and tasty tomatoes at your supermarket or farmer's market with these easy tips.

Tips on finding the freshest tomatoes
Photo courtesy Martin Poole/Thinkstock
If you're lucky enough to have a vegetable garden or farmer's market nearby, here are some creative ways to use up the harvest's tsunami of beefsteaks, brandywines and Mr. Stripeys – and keep them fresh.

How to choose the freshest tomatoes: 
1. Follow your nose. A good tomato has a fresh, green aroma and shiny, unblemished skin. It should feel firm but supple when squeezed.

2. Store tomatoes on the counter. Refrigerated tomatoes lose flavour and become mealy. Instead, store them at room temperature out of direct sunlight, which dries them out. To quickly ripen underripe tomatoes, place in a paper bag with a ripe tomato for a day or two.

3. Prepare simply. Slice ultrafresh tomatoes; add overripe ones to juices and sauces. Salt and salty things – such as capers, cheese and anchovies – emphasize tomatoes' sweet flavour; heavy dressings just cover it up. To show off tomatoes (especially if serving several varieties), just add one or more of the following: salt and pepper; a drizzle of good olive oil; a tiny splash of wine vinegar; sliced fresh mozzarella or shaved Asiago; or torn or minced fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano or marjoram.

4. Roast to intensify flavour. If your tomatoes are waterlogged or flavourless, roast them. Serve on salads or with grilled foods. Simply cut four plum or large tomatoes (or about 2 cups/500 mL cherry tomatoes) in half lengthwise. Arrange in foil-lined metal pan. Drizzle with about 1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper. Roast in 450 F (230 C) oven until tender and slightly shrivelled, 40 to 50 minutes.

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This story was originally titled "Tomato Tutorial" in the September 2010 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

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