|The Nose Knows Best
Fragrance is a better indicator of a good tomato
than color. Roger Verge, proprietor of Moulin de
Mougins restaurant in the south of France, goes
so far as to say the smell of the stem tells all.
"The stem should retain the garden aroma of
the plant itself; if it doesnt, your tomato
will lack flavor and will be good only for
decoration," he writes in Roger Verge’s Vegetables in
the French Style.
"A pinch of sugar will highlight their
sweetness, while a few drops of lemon juice will
give prominence to their acidity," Verge
Toppling one of the central tenets of
conventional tomato wisdom, Alice Waters offers
this shocker in Chez Panisse
Vegetables: The best
tomatoes arent necessarily vine-ripened. In
fact, leaving them on the vine until they are
fully ripe actually decreases the sugar and acid
content. "Experts say the very best way to
ripen them is to pick them off the vine just as
their color is starting to change from orange to
red, and to keep them inside for four or five
days, ideally at 59 to 70 degrees
Fahrenheit," Waters writes.
Never Do This
At least one rule might as well be etched in
stone: Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator.
How to Dry Them
If you want to dry tomatoes--either in the sun or
in an oven on low--count on about 17 pounds of
field tomatoes for each pound of dried tomatoes
that you desire.
How to Peel Them
To peel tomatoes, plunge them into boiling water
for 10 to 15 seconds, then immerse them in cold
water to keep the flesh from cooking. The skin
will slip right off.
Tomato "water," the clearish liquid
that dribbles out of a sliced tomato, can serve
as a low-acidity stand-in for lemon juice, which
is "ideal for marinating raw fish,"
writes Frances Bissell in The Book of
Quickest Way to
Looking for the simplest way to preserve
tomatoes? Rinse them, spread them out on a cookie
sheet and freeze overnight. Then put them in a
freezer bag and return them to the freezer. Slip
the skins off when you thaw them. Or, to save
freezer space, peel the tomatoes, puree them in a
blender, then strain them through cheesecloth or
a coffee filter to drain off the water (which can
be used as above or in soup). Freeze the pulp in
ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in a
Avoid even the temptation to try tomatoes out of
season. "Get your fill when local tomatoes
are in season, then put your tomato recipes aside
until next year," advises Janet Fletcher in More Vegetables, Please.