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TOMATO 101
Is it a fruit or a vegetable? Many people wonder. Botanically, a tomato is a fruit of the vine. However, in 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a tomato was considered a vegetable.

There are many thousands of tomato varieties grown for various purposes. Tomatoes can be red, orange, yellow, white, green, purple, and black. However, they can be divided into several different categories depending on their shape and size. The most common are Beefsteak, Plum, Cherry, Grape, and Campari or Cocktail tomatoes. No matter the variety, NEVER refrigerate a tomato. Always keep tomatoes at room temperature. If refrigeration is needed, allow tomato to first ripened (preferably on the vine) and then refrigerate for a few hours before being used. Continuous refrigeration will deteriorate the flavor of the tomato. The perfect temperature for a tomato is room temperature, between 55 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit (13-21 degrees Celsius).

WHAT ARE BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES?

A beefsteak tomato is one of the largest tomato varieties, with some weighing one (1) pound (0.45kg) or more. Instead of taking on the common sphere-shaped of most tomatoes, the beefsteak tomato takes on a kidney-bean shape, spreading out to the sides. These are grown in a rainbow of colors, including red, pale yellow, pink and purple-black. However, most are pink or red with numerous small seed compartments throughout. Due to their size, they are not considered suitable for commercial production, thus making them popular among home growers. Many consider it as the ideal sandwich tomato because they hold together so well when sliced.

WHAT ARE PLUM TOMATOES?

Plum tomatoes are usually oval or cylinder-shaped tomatoes that are used primarily for sauces and canning. The most common of these is the Roma, an Italian variety that is grown throughout the world. Their breeding makes them highly flavorful, less prone to bruising while being shipped and are easier to handle than some other tomatoes. Often available year round, plum tomatoes have fewer seeds and tend to be less juicy.

WHAT ARE CHERRY TOMATOES?

The cherry tomato is one of the smallest tomato varieties, and as the name indicates, it is generally the size of a cherry. However, it can range in size from a pea to the size of a golf ball and can vary in shape from spherical to oblong. Cherry tomatoes were created because of consumer’s need for smaller tomatoes. Their sweet taste and ease of use make them a great complement to salads, pastas and other dishes. Cherry tomatoes are usually red or yellow, with red being the sweetest. Nonetheless, they can be found in other colors, like ivory and purple. They can be use either whole or in halves to not only add flavor but also make a dish appetizing.

WHAT ARE GRAPE TOMATOES?

Grape tomatoes are a miniature form of the plum tomato. Originally, grape tomatoes were introduce as an exotic item in upscale grocery stores, however, they have become very popular for both growers and customers. Grape tomatoes are a result of a cross-breed of the thick skin Cherry tomato and the Italian Roma tomatoes. As the name suggest, they resemble an olive or a grape and contain intense flavor and immense sweetness. Grape tomatoes go well with salads due to their convenient size but can also be used in oil with fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into salsas, and used as a garnish.

WHAT ARE CAMPARI OR COCKTAIL TOMATOES?

Campari is a type of cocktail tomatoes which are generally larger than cherry tomatoes and smaller than plum tomatoes. These are mostly famous for their juiciness, high sugar content, and low acidity. Campari tomatoes are deep red and firm to the touch. Their perfect size makes them not only versatile in the kitchen but great in sauces, bruschetta, salads, and BBQ kabobs.

HOW TO PICK THE BEST QUALITY TOMATO?

When selecting a tomato whether it is for personal or commercial purpose, make sure that the tomato is firm, unblemished, and is free from any bruising. Although under-ripe tomatoes are perfectly fine, you will want to choose tomatoes that are already ripened. Under-ripe tomatoes can, however, be ripen by simply placing on the counter at room temperature. You should avoid refrigeration or placing tomatoes in direct sunlight since they will ripen faster and dehydrate.

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