With tomato season finally upon us, it’s high time you know which tomatoes to use for which purpose. Certain tomato varieties lend themselves better to sauces, while others are wasted if not eaten raw — but do you know which ones are which? When perusing the produce section at your local supermarket, being faced with so many different varieties may be totally overwhelming! But don’t panic! Below are the five most common types of tomatoes you are likely to find in almost any supermarket along with a short description explaining how to use them most successfully. A seasonal tomato is a dreadful thing to waste, so read on and discover how to put your tomatoes to good use!
Big and juicy, with mild flavor and high water content, beefsteak tomatoes are perfect in sandwiches (think amazing BLT’s) and salads, and even taste great simply sliced and dressed with salt. The high water content means they are not the best tomato to cook with — you’ll be reducing any sauce you make for a very long time to get it to the right consistency!
Plum (also known as Roma) tomatoes are the tomatoes to cook with. Their thin skins, relatively low water content, and minimal seed content mean that they are perfect for sauces. They are also the variety to use in any quick cooking dishes where you want to avoid excess moisture being added.
Use cherry tomatoes or any mini variety in salads or to make quick sauces that require less cooking time than a classic Pomodoro sauce. These tomatoes are extra sweet with thin skins and great flavor. Enjoy them on their own for a healthy, guilt-free, and satisfying snack.
Heirloom tomatoes vary hugely in size and color, but most can agree that they have the best tomato flavor of all varieties. Heirlooms must not contain any genetically modified organisms and must be bred with open-air pollination. Make good use of heirlooms and let them shine by using them raw in tomato salads.
On the Vine
These tomatoes, also known as hothouse tomatoes, are available all year round and have a very mild, barely-there tomato flavor. If you are desperate for a tomato, you can give these a try, but for sauce you are better off buying a good quality can of San Marzanos for great tomato flavor out of season.