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How To Buy And Store Fresh Tomatoes

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Tomatoes on the vine

One of my favorite childhood food memories is picking tomatoes fresh from the vine with my dad. I grew up in Sacramento and we didn't have much of a garden in our backyard but those tomato plants made up for it. My mother did all she could to keep me and my father from harvesting them immediately but to no avail. The moment one was ripe, he and I would make a mad dash out the front door to see who could nab it first. I usually won, or maybe he just let me win. Regardless, I attribute these memories to why the tomato is one of my favorite vegetables fruits.

My desire to share the joy of a good tomato with everyone was the inspiration for making these How-To videos. Now, a store-bought tomato is never going to taste like it was plucked straight from the vine. But there's no reason it can't be a great tasting tomato! All it takes is the steps I outlined below.

How to Select a Tomato

  • Avoid tomatoes with blemishes or dark spots.
  • The tomato should have a good weight for its size, feeling heavy.
  • The tomato should be firm, yet soft enough to give into any real pressure.
  • The tomato should be very aromatic when you smell it near where the stem was attached.

You want to avoid tomatoes with blemishes or dark spots on the skin as they can indicate rot throughout the entire fruit. It's not a given but they're best avoided just in case. The reason you want the tomato to feel heavy is that a heavy tomato is going to be a lot juicier. While I suggest in video that the fruit be firm yet soft, you can buy them on the firmer side if you do not plan to use them right away, letting them ripen throughout the week. But this can be a bit tricky as I think it is harder to judge a good tomato when it is under ripe. That is mostly due to my last tip on picking a good tomato--the smell. This is a huge part of identifying a good one. It should have a sweet woodsy smell to it and be very aromatic. A tomato with no smell will have no flavor.


How to Store a Fresh Tomato

  • Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator.
  • Store tomatoes on a flat surface, stem-side down.

Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator. The fridge causes the tomato to dry out, leaving the fruit mealy and tasteless. And really, no one wants that! The reason you store tomatoes stem-side down, on a flat surface, is because the area where the stem was attached is very sensitive. It is in this area that moisture and bacteria can enter the fruit, causing it to rot. Having the stem side of the tomato somewhat flush with a flat surface reduces this. Another option is to simply tape the top of the tomato with some scotch tape.

Tomatoes stored outside of the refrigerator--stem-side down--will stay fresh and tasty for about a week. Enjoy!

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