Tomatoes are finally in season! Those dusty, mealy, fire-truck-red orbs with the plasticky skin that are found year round in supermarkets can rot on the shelves for the next few weeks. Tomatoes are in farmers markets all over the country, ripe, earthy, and taut with sweet juice. Make sure that you get the most out of this fruit with these tips and unconventional ideas!
Ugly is pretty tasty
Heirloom tomatoes are not hybrid tomatoes. This means that they come from one seed and as such, have many unique characteristics. They are as tiny as cherries or as large as a small baby’s head. They come in colors ranging from the classic red to orange to yellow to green and even to purple! These tomatoes are also known for their strange shapes. Heirloom tomatoes are often lumpy, misshaped clumps that look more like a baseball mitt than a tomato, but that is okay. You don’t want a perfectly formed tomato here; what you want is one that has a bit of give and a strong scent of sugar and earth. Another great fact about these ugly tomatoes is that they have an increased ability to produce sugar, making them sweet enough to munch like apples. Just be sure to cut away any scars before you dig in.
Tomatoes are delicious, but the skins are often papery nuisances. To peel a tomato, simply score an “x” in the bottom of the tomato, and then drop the tomato into boiling water for about 30 seconds. When you take the tomato out, immediately drop it into a bowl of ice water to prevent it from cooking. After the tomato is cool enough to handle, the skin should peel away easily, leaving you with a tomato ready to cook or to eat.
The sky is the limit
Caprese salad is a classic, but why stop there? Drain your tomatoes and fry them, even if they are already ripe. Cover them with powdered sugar and pepper for a sweet and savory treat. Or, scoop the pulp out of tomatoes and mash them to create tomato juice. Freeze the juice with tarragon, white pepper, salt, and sherry vinegar, scraping with a fork every few hours. This granita is perfect when served as a light course at a fancy dinner or with a shot of vodka as an aperitif. Don’t forget the Southern favorite of a tomato sandwich—just soft white bread, mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s), and a big slice of sun-ripened tomato. Step outside of your comfort zone while these beauties are at their peak!