The hot summer weather has brought around one of the best parts of keeping a garden: harvesting tomatoes! Growing up, I hated tomatoes. Tomato slices where cold, slimy, tasteless burger spoilers. They were pale, mealy, mushy sandwich ruiners. It wasn’t till I was introduced to garden fresh, vine ripened, in season tomatoes in my early college days that I realized I didn’t hate tomatoes at all. I hated sad, old, unripe, out-of-season fruit. Tomatoes, I loved!
Tomatoes come in so many beautiful colors, shapes, and sizes. Nothing beats a tomato eaten right of the vine when you are picking them in the morning sunshine. They are delicious in everything from your eggs at breakfast to your roasted veggies at dinner.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which helps you absorb the iron in your favorite dark green leafy vegetables. Give yourself a high-5 next time you toss a handful on your lunch-time salad. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, which not only promotes good vision, it helps your immune system fight infection and keeps your skin glowing by promoting healthy cell production.
Tomatoes contain the carotenoid lycopene. Carotenoid are pigments naturally found in red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, but they don’t just give your produce it’s beautiful colors. Carotenoids, like lycopene, act as antioxidants to protect your cells from the damage done by free radicals! Enjoying your tomatoes with a healthy plant based fat can increase your bodies ability to absorb that lycopene (oh hello, olive oil!). To top it all off, tomatoes are also good source of the mineral and electrolyte potassium! They really pack a big nutritional punch!
Choosing the best tomatoes:
A ripe tomato is rich in color and will have a little give when it is gently squeezed. It should not be to hard (under-ripe) or or have wrinkles or soft spots (old or bruised). It should also have a lovely garden-fresh smell. If you are growing tomatoes yourself, a ripe tomato will feel heavy in your hand and pluck easily from the vine.
Ripe tomatoes are best stored on the counter. If you have the space available, you can prevent them from bruising or squishing each other by spreading them out in a single layer. I do not recommend keeping your tomatoes in the fridge, it can ruin their texture. Excess tomatoes can be canned (whole or as a lovely sauce) or even cored and frozen to use later in soups, sauces and stews. My hubby loves to oven dry his excess cherry tomato harvest and store them in the fridge or freezer. Oven dried tomatoes are delicious tossed on salads or sauteed into pasta sauces and stir-frys.
Does anything pair more perfectly than tomatoes and fresh basil? Caprese salad, bruschetta, Pizza Margherita. Combine juicy, ripe tomatoes with heaps of fresh, fragrant basil and I can’t get enough!
What is your favorite way to enjoy tomatoes? Leave a comment bellow!