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How to Identify and Use Different Types of Tomatoes

It may be hard to believe, but tomatoes are one of the most consumed types of produce in the U.S. Americans eat an average of  80 tons of this fruit (yes, I said fruit!) each year.
Tomatoes have a wide variety of benefits: they are an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, and vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus. Research also suggests tomatoes are important to bone health, heart health (help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides), and contain anti-cancer benefits. Not only that, but some studies have found reduced risk of some neurological diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease).
And, did you know that there are hundreds of different tomato varieties? With the help of Health Perch, we’ve created an overview of the most commonly used tomatoes.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

beefsteak tomatoes
Any variety of large tomatoes is referred to as beefsteak. Their size, thick flesh, and high ratio of flesh to juice and seeds is what they all have in common. Typically, supermarkets only put out the perfectly round tomatoes, but actually, the oddly shaped ones usually have the best flavor. And don’t be afraid to try ones that aren’t red!
Beefsteak’s size makes them ideal for throwing on a sandwich or burger, but they also have great flavor when cooked. They can generally be found year-round (depending on where you live), but are freshest in the summer.

Cherry Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are mostly sweet and a little sour. They taste divine right from the vine (I totally didn’t mean to rhyme there). The richness of this tomato makes them ideal for raw or cooked use.
It’s best to find cherry tomatoes from local farmers because they don’t travel well. They’re at their peak flavor in the summer, but tend to hold onto to their flavor year-round better than other tomatoes.
When cooking, don’t overcook or the seeds can start to alter the flavor (and not in a good way).

Grape Tomatoes

grape tomatoes
Grape tomatoes look a lot like cherry tomatoes, so how do you tell them a part? If you look closely, you’ll notice grape tomatoes are more of an oblong shape than cherry. You can also find grape tomatoes in orange and yellow, unlike cherry tomatoes.
The taste is unique. Grape tomatoes are among the sweetest tomatoes. There are approximately 50 or so types of grape tomatoes. The skins are thick and work better in sauce than the cherry, as they have a meaty texture when cooked.
You can generally find good-quality grape tomatoes at the supermarket as they travel well due to their hardiness, although you’ll still find the best flavor through local selections. You can start cooking with them early spring and use year-round.

Plum Tomatoes

plum tomatoes
These little egg-shaped guys are meaty and low in both seeds and water content. They’re ideal for canning or making sauce. Some people refer to them as Roma tomatoes — especially in the Western hemisphere.
Plum tomatoes are best when cooked, as it brings out the flavor. Just like all other fruits, they’re best when in season, but are among one of the best tomatoes to cook with year-round.

Tips and Tricks

  • When picking out tomatoes, make sure they are firm, heavy and brightly colored
  • Store ripe tomatoes out of direct sunlight, at room temperature
  • Store unripe tomatoes in direct sunlight to speed up the ripening process
  • Never refrigerate whole tomatoes
  • Can or preserve excess tomatoes
  • Prior to slicing tomatoes, thoroughly wash and dry them. Then, cut off the stems or pull them off (for cherry or grape tomatoes)
  • Use a serrated knife to avoid smashing the tomato
  • To peel a tomato, either poach, roast or freeze to remove the skin

Do you have any favorite tomato recipes? If so, do share with us! —Erika

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1 Comment
  1. Mulyo Hartana says:

    Very informative to me and usefull too.

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