My husband loves tomatoes almost more than he loves me, and he really loves me! He went to college in Indiana and still reminisces about the big juicy tomatoes that grew well there. We’ve lived quite a few places since then and wherever we go, he seeks good tomatoes and tries to grow them himself. Even when we lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where the temperature would drop drastically at night, he would painstakingly move our giant potted tomato plant out to our tiny balcony during the day and in for shelter at night.
With love like that he is a true tomato snob. There are a few little details that he insists his tomatoes have:
- They MUST be stored correctly! If a tomato is refrigerated it will suffer a significant loss of both flavor and texture. It is critical that whole tomatoes be store at room temperature, out of direct sun light.
- They need to smell like a tomato–fragrance is one of the best indicators of flavor. If you purchase a tomato and it has no aroma, then it probably will not have any flavor either.
- They should be hand selected. Some grocery stores opt to shrink-wrap packages of tomatoes to “protect” them. This is also a terrific way to hide any blemishes and imperfections; and if it is wrapped in plastic, how will you know what it smells like? Even with the tomatoes that come in plastic cartons, take the time to check every angle and open the top to make certain you are getting good tomatoes.
Lately there has also been a huge rise in the popularity of heirloom varieties of tomatoes, unlike the hybrids that have been bred to all look the same, taste the same, and hold up for the grocery industry (you know–the red baseball tomatoes).
We have tried growing and eating these older varieties every chance we get. Our current favorite is the yellow pear–it is like a pear-shaped grape tomato. It is has a mild flavor, nice texture, and adds color to a salad. Check your local grocer, the farmer’s market, or a garden shop to try some of these.