Around the BLOCK

Tomato Time

Written By: Mary Bloch - Aug• 02•09

IMG_0242Heinz seems proud to boast of 57 varieties of ketchup, but did you realize that there are actually 10,000 varieties of tomatoes? My favorite is the Sungold, a tiny, orange sphere of heaven. Popping them in my mouth like grapes, they burst with summer and a profound sweetness not found in common cherry red tomatoes. While most recipe books and magazines focus on large, beefy tomatoes, which now grow in a myriad of colors and sizes, the cherry tomato always seems to be the less favored relative. The month of August is the perfect time to pay homage to these little jewels.

No matter the size or the type of tomato, there is one unwavering rule — NEVER put any of them in the refrigerator. Storing a tomato under 55 degrees will zap its flavor. If you have a big batch and they are going to rot, eat them quickly. Make a tomato sauce, salsa or gazpacho. Give them away to your friends or neighbors. Just DO NOT put them in the refrigerator.

To make a cherry tomato even sweeter, try drying them in the oven to imitate the sun-dried version found in the store. Cut in half, (horizontally, not through the stem), put each half side by side on a cookie sheet, and roast in a 200-degree oven for 5-6 hours, or until dried (but not completely shriveled). It takes twenty pounds of fresh tomatoes to make one pound of oven-dried tomatoes, but even having a few on hand to throw into pastas or salads makes it worth the effort.

The best way to eat a cherry tomato is, of course, “straight up”, freshly picked from the vine and warmed by the sun. If one isn’t enough, which it certainly isn’t for me, try one of the other 10,000 varieties!

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2 Comments

  1. Great post, Mary. My favorite cherry tomatoes I have grown are the Sunsugar variety. they are also orange and extra sweet. I make a basil, fresh mozzarella, fresh greens and balsamic salad with them. For the larger sizes, I planted Golden Girls (yellow tomatoes) which are very prolific and sweet though aren’t as acidic as I like, pineapple tomatoes which are splotchy red/orange and excellent, but my favorite (as well as the squirrels and my boxer dog’s favorite too) are the regular old red Better Boy tomatoes. They are just perfection – they are so well balanced and the flesh has the perfect texture.

    • Mary Bloch says:

      We love the Sunsugar variety, too, Sarah. I really think those and the Sungold are better than any red cherry tomatoes. We have never had pineapple tomatoes, though, so I have put them on my list for next year. Thanks for the tip!

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