Produce Spotlight: Tomatoes
This month we are giving tomatoes the spotlight they deserve! Tomatoes are juicy, filled with flavor, and come in many different types.
The best time to plant your own tomatoes is when the weather is warm to prevent freezing and the soil is above 60° F. These conditions usually occur around mid-April in Oklahoma. It take about 3 months for a tomato plant to grow from seeds depending on the variety. Tomatoes are at peak freshness during May to October.
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Tomatoes come in many different varieties which all produce different shape and flavors.
Cherry tomatoes are small and round in shape and are seen on salads. They have a balanced sweet and tart taste. A cherry tomato should be firm, thin, and have smooth skin. Try using cherry tomatoes in our Summer Squash Sauté.
Roma is a common tomato seen everywhere. They have an egg-like shape and can grow up to 3” long. Roma tomatoes are bright red in color and have smooth, thick skin. They also have a low moisture compared to other tomatoes. You can use those fresh Roma tomatoes in ONIE’s Fresh Tomato Herb Salad.
Beefsteak tomatoes are also commonly seen in grocery stores. They are large and have a meaty texture with a classic tomato flavor. They are a lot heavier compared to other tomatoes. These tomatoes can also range in color from pink, to bright red, to orange. Beefsteak tomatoes are perfect to use in this Chipotle Black Bean Salsa recipe.
Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes are mostly seen at the Farmers Markets across Oklahoma. These tomatoes get their name from their skin which has shades of purple or pink with some green throughout. Their flavor is mostly sweet and slightly smoky.
How to Store Tomatoes
Tomatoes should only be stored in the fridge if they are fully ripe. Putting unripe tomatoes in the fridge will stop the ripening process so you will never get a ripe tomato. A ripe tomato can only last a day or two in the fridge. If a ripe tomato is left in the fridge for a couple days it will start to lose its juiciness and the flesh will wrinkle. Allow your chilled tomato come to room temperature before you eat it for the best texture and flavor.
If your tomato is not ripe you will want to store them in a single layer on a plate or wicker basket to allow air to move around the tomatoes, which will give them a slightly longer life. Lastly, store tomatoes with their stems down to help prevent moisture from escaping through their stems.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Tomatoes are also filled with fiber. Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissue while vitamin K helps to keep bones strong. Vitamin A helps to maintain a healthy immune system and eye health. Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked.