Tomato

Tomato

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Indispensable as the fresh tomato is for eating either raw or cooked, it is only the beginning of this great fruit’s usefulness to the cook. The tomato takes so well to being tinned, puréed and concentrated that these forms are considered equal in status to the fresh product – indeed, they are sometimes the first choice for their rich colour and deep flavour, especially when fresh tomatoes are a little out of season and may lack flavour. Tomato juice, tomato sauce or ketchup, tomato relish or chutney find a place in most kitchens, and are used both to accompany food and as ingredients.

The tomato comes in a number of varieties from the large, ridged ones (which usually have especially good flavour), through smooth red globes to egg tomatoes, just right for lunchboxes. There are also yellow varieties. Tiny cherry tomatoes (sometimes called ‘Tom Thumb’), now widely available, are brilliant for garnishing. They can be used in salads and, dipped first into gin then into coarse salt, make a sensational nibble to have with drinks. Tomatoes are often sold on the vine; these make an attractive display.

To buy: The very best fresh tomato is one that has been sun-ripened on the bush, but those available commercially have usually been picked at the stage where they are mature but still green or just beginning to redden. They are often fully ripe by the time they reach the shop; buy bright red ones for immediate use, paler ones if you want to use them in 1–2 days.

Tomatoes to be eaten raw or cooked whole or with a stuffing should be bright coloured but firm, with smooth, tight skins and no soft spots. Tomatoes which are a little beyond this stage and are very soft but still sound are usually cheaper and are excellent for cooking.

To store: Remove from any plastic wrapping and store ripe tomatoes in a cool, dark place; refrigerate (in a plastic bag in the crisper) only if you have more than you can use immediately, and remove half an hour before serving for fullest flavour. Store underripe tomatoes in good light but not in sunlight, and they will redden well in 1–2 days. You can speed the process by keeping them in a closed paper bag with a ripe apple. Tomatoes which have been picked before reaching maturity will not ripen and are best used for making pickles and chutney or, if they are not too hard, for frying: slice them thickly, dust with seasoned flour and fry slowly in bacon fat or butter.

Basic preparation:

To peel: Cover tomatoes with boiling water in a saucepan or bowl, count to 10, then remove and place them under cold running water. Make a tiny slit in the skin at the base and strip the skin off towards the stem end.

If the skin does not come away easily, drop tomatoes back into boiling water for a few seconds more, then place under cold running water again. After peeling, use the point of a knife to cut out the blossom at the stem end. Use peeled tomatoes in casseroles, sauces, salads and for garnish.

To seed: Cut tomatoes in half crossways; squeeze them in the palm of your hand, giving a little shake as you do so, over a sieve set over a bowl. Scrape out any remaining seeds with a teaspoon or grapefruit knife, and discard the seeds. Use the liquid in the bowl for the dish you are making, or add it to a stock or sauce.

To season: The correct basic seasoning for tomatoes is salt, pepper and just a touch of sugar to bring out the flavour. A little sugar added to dressings for tomato salads or to dishes using cooked tomatoes will give the fullest flavour.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

Tags:
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again