Summer time is tomato time. Be sure to enjoy them – fresh or cooked – when they are ripe, kissed by the sun and at their very best. Some tips to get you started:
The first Europeans in the Americas thought they were poisonous. The French believed them to be a powerful aphrodisiac, the Italians were so starstruck they called it the golden apple, "pomodoro". They have been serenaded in songs and have become the definition of the color red.
Tomatos are a great source of potassium and contain vitamins A, C and K. Even when cooked for hours to form a thick sauce with umami qualities they contain lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant. In fact, some claim that the goodness in ketchup (despite all the sugar and all the salt) is one reason why so many fast food eaters are still with us. (Yes, we are excaggerating a little, but you get the point.) Tomato sauce for pasta and those lovely chili sauces with roast meat are almost like health cures...
Now, after all that rich christmas food, is the time to reload with tomatoes. It is, of course, not the best time of year to find the best fresh specimens. But here are some tips:
• Look for plump tomatoes that feel heavy in your hand.
• Look for deep colors. Some tomatoes are evenly red, some not.
• Store at room temperature. This way the flavors and the color will have time to develop even more. And, of course, eat before they go over-ripe.
• There are thousands of different breeds of tomato around the globe. A hybrid red-green tomato from southern Spain known as RAF ("Resistant to Fusarium", a fungus) is actually at its best at this time of year.
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