“Wonderful red globes of goodness.” That’s how Florida Chef Justin Timineri refers to the tomatoes grown in his state. While this is the time of year when growers in other parts of the country are starting to think about their vines, Florida’s season is much longer, and accounts for about half of all fresh tomatoes produced domestically—making Florida the nation’s largest producer of fresh tomatoes.
Much of that, of course, is because Florida’s temperatures are considered ideal for growing tomatoes, with weather similar to the Mediterranean.
Tomato consumption also appears to be on the rise, thanks in part to the identification of health benefits from eating fresh tomatoes. They are fat-free, high in vitamin C, low in sodium, and a good source of Vitamin A and potassium. They also have lycopene, one of the newer antioxidants believed to lower the risk of some cancers, and other phytochemicals that have caused the tomato to rank high on the list of healthy, natural products.
Restaurant chefs have embraced the tomato in recent years, too, offering some great new recipes such as Caprese Salad and Bruschetta, both which use raw tomatoes or tomatoes cooked slightly with olive oil.
So, what do you look for when selecting tomatoes for your own dinner table?
First, bright red tomato skins indicate ripeness.
You also want a tomato that is juicy, and the best way to tell that is by weight. Choose a tomato that is heavy in comparison both to its size and to other tomatoes.
Next, smell the tomato. It should deliver a fresh tomato taste with a bit of outdoors earthiness.
Don’t worry about the shape; once cut, it won’t matter. However, avoid tomatoes that have obvious soft spots or cracks that are leaking juice.
And, contrary to popular practice, don’t refrigerate your fresh tomatoes, because that can contribute to a loss in flavor. Buy them fresh and eat them right away when you can. Otherwise, buy them slightly under ripe and let them ripen in a sunny spot on your kitchen counter.
Finally, look for the Fresh from Florida logo when shopping.
And, find these recipes with a simple click!