To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? When to peel and seed? Proper handling of fresh tomatoes is trickier than it might seem. Our readers asked tomato questions on Facebook and Twitter , here are our recommendations.
This is prime time for local produce so get out to your local farmers’ market or farm stand where colorful and plump tomatoes are abundant. Choose large tomatoes that are free of bruises and heavy for their size (heavy equals juicy). For smaller cherry tomatoes, look for ones that are brightly colored with tight skins.
Don’t look only for perfectly round or red tomatoes. Oddly shaped, bizarre-colored heirloom and other unique varieties are some of the tastiest kinds! Learn more about the various heirloom varieties.
Handling and Storage
Refrigeration can make tomatoes dry, dull tasting and mealy. Instead, store in a cool, dry spot on the counter and try to use within a few days of purchase. Most farm fresh tomatoes will keep on the counter for about a week.
Peeling and Seeding
Recipes that call for cooking down large tomatoes (like sauces and salsas) often require removal of peels and seeds. This is sometimes recommended to improve texture, reduce excess liquid, or cut down on any bitter flavor that the seeds may have. Though it isn’t always needed – this recipe for roasted tomato sauce uses the entire tomato – it’s smooth and silky without a hint of unpleasant bitterness.
Recipes that do warrant peeling and seeding often don’t give easy to follow directions so here are step-by-step instructions:
Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow “x” mark onto the bottom of each tomato; drop into a pot of boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds or until skins begin to loosen. Place directly into a bowl of ice water. Use a paring knife to peel skin away. Cut in half and gently squeeze to remove seeds.
Watch Alex Guarnaschelli go through the steps in this video.
If you only need to seed and not peel, simply cut raw tomatoes in half and gently use a spoon or clean fingers to scoop out the seeds.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »