Tomatoes — some consider them fruits, others say they're vegetables — but no matter what you call them, this time of year, tomatoes are delicious. Chef Kathleen Daelemans, author of “Cooking Thin With Chef Kathleen,” has some mouth-watering tips and recipes.
Is the tomato a fruit, a vegetable or a berry?
Botanically speaking, a tomato is the ovary. Holding the seeds of a flowering plant, it is a fruit, or, more precisely, a berry. As far as the government is concerned, tomatoes are vegetables. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables but not on fruits caused the tomato's status to become a matter of legal importance. In 1893 the U.S. Supreme Court settled this controversy, declaring the tomato a vegetable. The case is known as Nix v. Hedden (149 U.S. 304).
- Tomato season is different for everyone across the country. The season starts earlier for those in the South and the West Coast than for those in the North and Mid-West. Pay attention to what's happening in your markets, watch the prices, and make friends with the produce guys.
- Tomatoes shouldn't be refrigerated or stored above or below about 50 degrees. According to Penn State, a refrigerated tomato will loose its aroma and flavor in as little as 40 minutes! Tomatoes will get mealy and become unsuitable to eat.
- Not sure when it's tomato season for you? You'll start noticing them more when they move to the front of the store. Also the prices will drop, you'll see them on menus more, as well as at farmstands and fruit markets.
- Beefsteak: Is great for burgers and anytime you want a large, firm and perfect slice of tomato.
- Roma: Is excellent to use in sauces, soups and stews.
- Cherry: Good for salads, roasting, pastas and baking.
- Heirloom: Best eaten raw with olive oil, vinegar and a sprinkle of salt or cracked black pepper. Or you can eat it just the way Mother Nature hands them to you ... off the vine.
- Vine-ripened: Locally vine-ripened are especially sweet and delicious. They are best eaten raw in salads, sandwiches or plain.
- Hydroponic: These are seasonal tomatoes and are best when ripened on the vine and purchased locally. Try to purchase them from a nearby farmer’s market so you can ask questions and become familiar with the varieties available to you and how they they are best used.
About chef Kathleen Daelemans
Kathleen Daelemans took herself from a size 22 to a healthy size 8, and is the author of the best-selling cookbooks “Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, 200 Easy Recipes for Healthy Weight Loss” and “Getting Thin and Loving Food, 200 Easy Recipes to Take You Where You Want to Be,” published by Houghton Mifflin. For more info, visit kathleendaelemans.com.