From mid- to late summer through early fall, locally grown tomatoes take center stage. They’re just about everywhere, from produce bins at the local grocery store to roadside stands and farmers markets — not to mention your own backyard. Sure, Americans enjoy fresh tomatoes all year long thanks to hothouse growers and farmers in Mexico and Latin America. But there’s nothing quite like those plump and delicious ones that are picked at the peak of the local season.
How to choose a ripe tomato
Tomatoes should feel heavy for their size and have a deep, rich color. They should also have an earthy, distinctive aroma near the stem and yield to the touch.
Never refrigerate tomatoes; it destroys the taste and the aroma. Store at room temperature, out of sunlight. Tomatoes continue to ripen after they are picked, so if yours ripen all at once, it’s time to make soup, salsa, sauce and more.
Tomato prep 101
Peeling tomatoes is unnecessary for salads or slow roasting.
Blanching in boiling water or blistering over a charcoal or gas grill helps remove skins for sauces or other recipes where they are undesirable.
Blanching: Drop tomato in boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds to loosen skin. Lift out with a slotted spoon; when cooled, peel skin with a sharp paring knife.
Blistering: Place tomatoes on a charcoal or gas grill grate and turning, blacken evenly; when cool enough to touch, peel off blackened skin.
Seeding: For recipes that call for seeded tomatoes, cut in half and squeeze gently cut side down, easing out seed sacs with a small utensil or fingertips.
Try these 10 great recipes for your summer tomatoes:
Fresh Tomato Salsa
If you like your salsa a little less spicy, simply reduce the amount of chili peppers.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Your own fresh sauce will outshine any of the imports.
Bruschetta With Fresh Tomatoes
This tasty mixture piled on crusty bread is an easy appetizer or a light supper.
Spaghetti With Scallops, Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
A sweet-tasting summer pasta dish.
Gnocchi With Fresh Tomatoes, Green Olives and Smoked Mozzarella
A quick and tasty dish from Mario Batali.
Chorizo, Tortilla, Fresh Tomato Quiche
Easy and delicious — tortilla strips form the crust for this no-fuss dish.
Fried Green Tomatoes With Basil Mayonnaise
A traditional Southern family favorite with a new twist.
Use this for a condiment in place of ketchup.
Broiled Tomatoes Glazed With Mustard-Herb Mayonnaise
A classic side dish we never tire of.
Gigi BLT Salad With Roasted-Tomato Vinaigrette
What could be more popular than a BLT sandwich? The salad version, of course!