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Tomato tips: The best ways to buy, store and use different types

What's the difference between heirloom, Roma and beefsteak tomatoes?

Summer is the season of bright, plump, sweet and juicy tomatoes — perfect for slicing into salads, simmering into pasta sauces or piling into sandwiches. But which tomatoes are best for those applications? How do you know if a tomato is any good? How do you store them to preserve their integrity? Never fear, chef Joel Gamoran is here — to answer all of your red-hot tomato questions.

What should you look for when buying tomatoes?

  • Blemish-free skin
  • Stem and any leaves are vibrant green — not dried or brown.
  • The heavier, the tomato the juicier it will be, so gently pick them up and compare.
  • Smell your tomatoes! They should smell sweet and a little grassy.

Tomato ground rules

  • Storing your tomatoes in the fridge makes them last longer, but they'll get mealy.
  • Cut your tomatoes with a serrated utility knife — small but with teeth!

What are the different types of tomatoes?

Sungold tomatoes

  • Best stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Perfect for salads, snack platters or roasting.

Heirloom tomatoes

  • Store at room temperature, upside-down on a plate or tray.
  • If they're ripe, you can store them in the fridge upside-down for 3 to 4 days.
  • Perfect for dicing for bruschetta, Caprese salad or slicing to put on top of burgers or sandwiches (hello, BLT!). Amazing just sliced and sprinkled with sea salt.

Roma tomatoes

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Great for salsa, tomato sauces, canning and preserving.

Beefsteak tomatoes

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Use them on burgers and sandwiches, in salads, pasta sauces and tomato soup.
Valerie Bertinelli's Fresh Tomato Sauce

Charred Bread Rubbed with Tomato

Makes 4 servings

Joel Gamoran's take on pan con tomate.
Joel Gamoran's take on pan con tomate.Jim Henkins


  • 4 slices of bread
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 overripe tomatoes
  • 4 slices serrano ham


  1. Brush bread with olive oil.
  2. Grill bread.
  3. Rub garlic clove on bread.
  4. Cut tomato and a half and rub it on bread.
  5. Top with ham.