First Tomatoes and Tips

So I have recently picked some of my first homegrown tomatoes. The funny thing is, I'm not really a tomato person. I don't eat raw tomatoes and will always say, "hold the tomato" on any sandwich, salad, or burger. But I will eat them when they are used in salsa... and I make a lot of salsa in the summer time. I love the freshness of all the ingredients and that it is a healthy snack.

I planted three tomato plants. One is a Green Zebra and I actually can't remember what the other two are. Shame on me. Anyway, two of them are producing a few fruit. Not a lot, which suits me fine. If I had an abundance of tomatoes I wouldn't know what to do with them. The small crop suits my salsa making plans just fine. The third plant I haven't figured out what's wrong. It flowers, but it doesn't produce fruit.

I've sold Pampered Chef products for 12 years now and in my heyday I got the ruby ring and trips to Cancun, Rome, and more. I think a lot of my success was because people were educated at my shows. I wasn't just selling products, I was teaching about food. I often shared about tomatoes and how people store them incorrectly.

I'll recommend a great book to any true foodies out there. It's called The Food Lover's Tiptionary by Sharon Tyler Herbst and it has a treasure trove of food information from A-Z. I particularly love all the entries on produce and meat because it will tell you how long things will store for before they spoil, how to pick what's ripe, etc.

Here are some of the important things you should know about tomatoes:

Do not store them in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures turn the fruit pulpy and destroy the flavor.

Tomatoes should be set with the stem side down, on their shoulders. That's because fruit ripens on the vine from the bottom up. Think of your half ripened tomato. It starts turning red from the bottom up to the stem. So that means the bottom of the tomato is the most ripe and the faster it will mush and spoil. Store the tomato stem side down on its shoulders, the firmest and last section of the tomato to ripen.

Never cook tomatoes or a tomato based sauce in an aluminum pan - the tomatoes will lose their bright color and you will get a bitter undertaste.

Tomato slices will hold their shape better if you slice it vertically vs horizontally.