The best ways to cook this kitchen staple


Tomatoes: The best way to cook this kitchen staple

|Deepali Verma

March 19, 2023

From making chutneys to cooking on ebery day to salads, this ingredient is at the heart of Indian kitchens

No other fruit or vegetable is used or consumed to the same extent as the tomato. Tomatoes can be used in an unlimited number of dishes, from pizza to ketchup to sun-dried tomatoes and everything in between. Even candied, it can be used in cakes and is a Southern favorite.

It is usually advised to keep tomatoes out of the refrigerator at all costs when preserving them. However, you do have some flexibility if you can’t make regular visits to the store or if you frequently forget to eat the tomatoes right away.

Usually, tomatoes can stand up to the refrigerator better the more they ripen. Those tomatoes that were never allowed to ripen will perform the worst (resulting in tomatoes that have little flavour). Therefore, it is best to keep unripe tomatoes on the counter for a few days, but the exact number of days will depend on the ambient temperature and how ripe they were when you bought them. However, you can keep fully ripe tomatoes that you’re not quite ready to eat in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Before eating, let the refrigerated tomatoes come to room temperature for the best flavour.

Methods for storing tomatoes, including whether to store them stem-side up or down, is a topic of debate as well as the refrigerator vs. countertop dispute. The idea that tomatoes may bruise less quickly if stored stem-side up is a common one, although there is strong evidence to support the idea that storing stem-side down is best. This is because the stems allow moisture to escape, so by arranging them stem-side down, you promote moisture retention and keep them fresh.

For slicing tomatoes, a serrated knife is preferable to a knife with a flat edge. When you’re slicing tomatoes with a flat-edged knife, make sure it’s very sharp to prevent crushing and bruising the tomato’s flesh.

For herbed cheese, fish or egg salad, or as a starter, diced cherry tomatoes create excellent edible bowls. As a side dish, whether baked or raw, or as a condiment bowl for sauces, use standard-sized hollow tomatoes stuffed with any variety of fillings. Before stuffing, turn the hollow tomatoes upside down to allow them to drain for about ten minutes. Stability improves when stuffed tomatoes are baked in a muffin pan.

When cooking tomatoes, avoid using aluminum cookware. Aluminum reacts negatively with tomato acid. The color and bitterness of cooked tomatoes are diminished when aluminum is used. Furthermore, some of the aluminum will be absorbed by the food, and the acid in the tomatoes may etch and discolor aluminum cookware.

You can add a little sugar and salt to the tomatoes to balance the acidity, which also enhances the flavor.

To counteract the acidity, we choose to add grated carrots to our marinara sauce instead of sugar. In the sauce, the carrots fall apart and give off sweetness without adding any taste. Also, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per gallon of tomato sauce will help reduce acidity.

Some meals may naturally take longer to cook due to the strong acid content in tomatoes. For example, adding tomatoes to beans while cooking can increase cooking time by up to 20%.

Plum tomatoes are best used in sauces. Although all tomato varieties are healthy, ball, cherry and grape tomatoes are best eaten raw.

If canned tomatoes are your only option and all you have on hand are nice fresh tomatoes from the supermarket, you may be better off using them in cooked dishes.

Herbs including basil, oregano, pepper, dill, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, celery seed, sesame seed, tarragon, chives, and parsley pair beautifully with tomatoes.