With their rich flavor and mild acidity, tomatoes have worked their way into thousands of recipes. You can eat them raw in salads, salsas, or sandwiches, cook them to make sauces, stuff them and bake them, or grill them on skewers with other vegetables. Summertime is the the best season for tomatoes; those sold at other times of the year are often bland. Indeed, better cooks often prefer canned tomatoes for their sauces over fresh out-of-season tomatoes. Select tomatoes that are brightly colored, smooth skinned, and heavy for their size. Don't refrigerate tomatoes--it ruins their flavor.
Equivalents: 1 large tomato = 1 cup, chopped
Substitutes: sun-dried tomatoes (reconstitute first in water) OR tomato paste (1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped = 1 tablespoon tomato paste ) OR roasted red peppers OR tomatillos OR mangos (in salsas) OR papayas (in salsas)
cherry tomato Notes: These are less than an inch in diameter, perfect for adding to salads or crudité platters, or grilling on skewers. There are both red and yellow varieties. Substitutes: teardrop tomato OR slicing tomato (for salads)
Chinese lantern plants
currant tomato Notes: These are about half the size of cherry tomatoes. Substitutes: cherry tomato (larger) OR teardrop tomatoes OR grape tomatoes
grape tomatoes Substitutes: teardrop tomatoes OR currant tomatoes OR cherry tomatoes green tomato Notes: These are picked before they turn green. Southerners like to fry them. Substitutes: tomatillos OR slicing tomatoes (especially underripe ones) OR bell peppers
Mexican green tomato
Mexican husk tomato
pear tomato See teardrop tomato
sauce tomato = paste tomato = plum tomato Notes: This tomato isn't as juicy as other tomatoes, which gives it a more concentrated flavor that works well in sauces and stews. These are also the best tomatoes for drying. You may want to remove the bitter seeds before cooking these tomatoes, but save the gel that surrounds the seeds--it's rich in flavor. Varieties include the roma tomato = Italian tomato = Italian plum tomato and saladette tomato. Sauce tomatoes are most flavorful in the summer. During the rest of the year, many cooks prefer canned tomatoes over the bland and mealy fresh tomatoes they usually find in markets. Substitutes: slicing tomato (This has a higher water content, so you'll need to cook it longer to concentrate its flavor.)
slicing tomato = globe tomato Notes: These large tomatoes are best for sandwiches and grilling. Varieties include the beefstake tomato and oxheart tomato. The red varieties tend to be more acidic than the yellow. Substitutes: cherry tomato (for salads) OR vine tomato OR Belgian tomato OR beets (for salads)
vine tomato = vine-ripened tomato Notes: For best flavor, tomatoes should stay on the vine until they're fully ripened. This is a tall order for growers, who prefer to pick tomatoes while they're still green and sturdy, and then gas them with ethylene until they turn red. Vine tomatoes, on the other hand, are picked after they begin to "break" or turn red, which allows them to develop fuller flavor. Expect to pay more for the special handling required to bring these to market.
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