Packed with cancer-fighting lycopene, tomatoes are also rich in flavor—which is why they’re essentials in cuisines around
Season: Year-round; peak June through September.
How to Choose Tomatoes
A ripe tomato will be vibrant in color, plump, and firm and have just a little give. Sniff them if you can; if they’re missing that sweet, woody smell, leave them behind. Always look for tomatoes and grape tomatoes that are free of wrinkles (a sign of age).
How to Store Tomatoes
Keep tomatoes unwashed and at room temperature (putting them in the refrigerator can turn the flesh mealy). For maximum air circulation, remove them from plastic bags. To help speed ripening, put them in a paper bag with an apple, which emits ethylene gas, a ripening agent. Once ripe, tomatoes will last up to 3 days.
How to Prepare Tomatoes
For the smoothest slicing, use a serrated knife, which will cut through a tomato’s thin skin without bruising the flesh. To remove the core, cut around it at an angle with a paring knife.
How to Use Tomatoes
Big beefsteak tomatoes are best raw or for grilling, plum or Roma tomatoes for sauces. Cherry tomatoes make great cooked side dishes, and little grape tomatoes are easy to pop into salads. Heirloom tomatoes, found at farmers markets, are very flavorful varieties not cultivated on a large scale. Piquant green tomatoes are good for breading and frying.
—Katrine Ames and Emily McKenna
Real Simple Tomato Recipes:
- Perfect Tomato Salad
- Zucchini Melts With Tomato Hazelnut Salad
- Smoky Butterflied Chicken With Garlic-Mayo Tomatoes and Herbs
- Meat Loaf With Roasted Tomatoes
- Braised Beef With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans
Fruits and vegetables at their peak right now.
Find out what's in season in your area right now, then locate a farmers' market near you.