A tomato is a tomato is a tomato, right?
Homegrown, storebought, heirloom, hybrid, cherry, grape, slicing, paste, red, yellow... There's a tomato for every taste, but how do you know which one to choose?
If you're planning on dressing up a salad, try some tiny grape or cherry tomatoes. They're small in size, but big on sweet tomato flavor. As a bonus, there's no messy prep ahead of time. Wash 'em up, toss 'em in. Orange, yellow or "black" tomatoes make a great visual impact, too.
If it's tomato sauce you're after, plum tomatoes are the perfect pick. Also known as Romas, these are meatier and less juicy than most other tomatoes, making them great for cooking down into zesty sauces and pastes. This "dry" trait also makes them a good choice for slicing into salads; less juice to water down your dressing.
When you want a thick slab of tomato on your hamburger, there's no beating a Beefsteak. This bad boy comes packed with juice and flavor, and is probably what pops into your head at the mention of "tomato".
Whatever kind you choose, look for brightly colored, firm-fleshed tomatoes without bruises. Skip the ones with deep cracks or black spots, which can be sign of rot. Don'tbe alarmed if you find scablike rings around the top of your tomato. It's not some weird disease; it just means that the tomato plant received uneven watering during its production stage. Some store tomatoes have been artificially ripened, leaving them close to tasteless. Look for the magic phrase, "vine ripened", or do your buying at a Farmer's Market.
Don't forget to rely on your nose! A tomato should smell like a tomato, so give it a good whiff. If the scent makes you want to bite into it right then and there, you've got a winner.
What's your take on tomatoes?