Quick and Healthy Tomato Recipes 

Slicing tomatoes are large round varieties, which hold more juice and seeds. They are perfect for eating raw in a wide variety of ways. Plum tomatoes are meaty, eggplant-shaped, and may be red or yellow. They are excellent for sauce making, canning, and pizzas. Small cherry-type tomatoes are generally served whole, although they can be cut in half and sautéed in any dish. They contain a great deal of seeds and juice.


Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Nutritionists have always known tomatoes were good for you, now there is research-based information as to why. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, potassium, fiber and vitamin A in the form of health promoting beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Tomatoes are also a source of lycopene, which is the subject of current promising research on the role of plant chemicals that promote health. Research suggests that lycopene may play a role in the fight against cancer, especially prostate cancer. Like beta-carotene, lycopene is a carotenoid, responsible for the bright red color of the tomato, watermelon, and grapefruit. Although lycopene is available in all ripe tomatoes, a greater supply is more useful to the body in cooked tomatoes.


Nutrition Facts

Serving size, one cup chopped raw

  • Calories: 24
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 5.3 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 gram
  • Potassium: 254 mg
  • Vitamin C: 22 mg
  • Vitamin A: 1,133 IU


Preparation and Serving

Tomatoes are, of course, delicious raw, sautéed, grilled, stewed, and added to many preparations. Use a serrated knife or very sharp non-serrated knife to slice or chop tomatoes or prick the skin to get a slice going. Cut tomatoes lengthwise from stem to blossom end to retain more juice in each slice.

To peel tomatoes, blanch by dropping them into boiling water for about 30 seconds, or longer for firm tomatoes, then plunge into a bowl of ice water until cool enough to handle. Cut an X on the stem end and use a paring knife to pull skin away. Skin will pull away easily if the tomatoes have been blanched long enough.

To seed tomatoes, cut the tomato in half horizontally. Holding a half in the palm of your hand, squeeze out the jelly-like juice and seeds over a strainer and scoop out remaining seeds with your fingertip. Do not throw away the juice, sieve it and use it in another recipe or drink it.


Storage Tips

Fresh ripe tomatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, refrigeration renders them tasteless and turns the flesh to mealy mush. Flavor and texture begin to deteriorate when the temperature drops below 54°F. Temperatures above 80°F cause tomatoes to spoil quickly. Store tomatoes at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, away from direct sunlight until ready to use (sunlight hastens ripening).

Refrigeration also slows ripening of tomatoes. Refrigerate only extra-ripe tomatoes you want to keep from ripening any further. To reverse some of the damage, bring chilled tomatoes to room temperature before serving raw or simply add to cooked preparations.

To ripen tomatoes, place them in a paper bag, stem end up. Punch several holes all around the bag and fold the top over. The bag will help to keep some of the natural ethylene gas in place, which aids in the ripening process. Depending on how under ripe they are, tomatoes may take one to five days to ripen. Check progress daily.


Home Preservation

Tomatoes are excellent for canning, freezing, and drying. With a forced-air dehydrator, you can make your own sun dried tomatoes. Use plum-type Romas, with their thick, meaty flesh and low percentage of water for best results. Once they are dried, tomatoes should be packed in airtight containers. They should not be packed in oil for longer than one or two days, and they should be stored in the refrigerator. Commercially prepared sun-dried tomatoes in oil have been treated to prevent bacteria growth. Learn proper techniques for preserving tomatoes.


To Freeze Tomatoes

Frozen tomatoes keep their fabulous fresh flavor, but they become mushy in texture and are best used in cooked soups, sauces or stews. The skin will toughen in the freezer, but it is much easier to remove upon thawing. Or run frozen tomatoes under cold water and the skins will curl up and can easily be pulled right off.

  • Wash whole tomatoes, remove the stems and cut out the core.
  • Leave the tomatoes whole or quarter them and pack them into freezer bags, leaving about an inch headspace.


To Can Tomatoes

Tomatoes are an intermediate acid food. To make them acid enough for canning in a water bath canner or pressure canner, lemon juice (2 tablespoons/quart), vinegar (4 tablespoons/ quart) or citric acid (1/2 teaspoon/quart) must be added. Use half the amount of acid for pint-size jars.

Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with the tomatoes. Vinegar tends to change the flavor; lemon juice actually produces the best results. Fresh or bottled lemons can be used. If the additional acid makes the produce taste too acidic for you, add a pinch of sugar to each jar to offset the taste.

Green tomatoes are more acid than ripened tomatoes and can be canned safely using any of the following directions. Select only disease-free, preferably vine-ripened, firm fruit for canning. Two and a half to three and a half pounds of fresh tomatoes will yield one quart of canned tomatoes.

Tomatoes can be raw or hot-packed. All tomato products must be processed in a water bath canner. Processing times vary depending on the form (whole, crushed, or juiced) of the tomatoes being canned and the jar size (pints or quarts) and whether a hot-pack or raw-pack is used.

How to Can Tomatoes