Get to Know Tomatoes

In Manitoba, the tomato harvest is looked forward to by vegetable gardeners everywhere who are waiting for that first bite of a home-grown vine-ripened, sun-sweetened tomato. There's nothing quite like it.

The tomato was originally called the "apple of love" by French and German gardeners who only discovered it in the 16th century.

So let's get to know the object of gardeners' affection a bit better!

There are thousands of varietals of tomatoes, but here is a quick rundown of some common of the more common ones:

  • Heirloom tomatoes: vary in shape, size, color and flavour
  • Green tomatoes: firm, with a great balance of sweetness and acidity
  • Cherry tomatoes: small in size, very sweet, juicy flesh with tender skin
  • Globe tomatoes: round shape with sweet juiciness, well-balanced with acidity
  • Beefsteak tomatoes: large in size, firm juicy flesh, great sliced on a sandwich
  • Plum tomatoes: oval shape with meaty flesh and rich flavor, great for sauces

Although tomatoes are available year round, their true season is from July to October. When selecting a tomato, it should be heavy for its size, free of any bruises or blemishes and have a strong aroma. Color is not necessarily an indicator of quality, but avoid those that are supposed to be red but have a significant amount of green.

Tomatoes continue to ripen after they are picked from the vine. Unless they have achieved peak ripeness, they should be stored at room temperature and never refrigerated. Refrigeration causes tomatoes to become soft and mealy, and it can prevent the development of their full flavour and color.

When preparing tomatoes, be sure to sharpen and hone your knife before slicing. Due to its thick skin, slicing a tomato with a sharp knife is the best way to ensure even slices and can help prevent any accidents.

Use this trick to cut a lot of cherry or grape tomatoes quickly:

  • Take two small plastic lids of the same size (ideally quart-size lids). Place as many tomatoes as you can in a single layer on top of one of the lids. Then place the other on top and press down gently, but firmly enough to hold the layer of tomatoes in place. Carefully slice horizontally through the layer of tomatoes.
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