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Everyday Food, July/August 2006

Homegrown or store-bought, sweet, fragrant tomatoes can inspire meal after delicious meal.

Tomato Facts
Because they're easy to grow, tomatoes are the most common backyard garden vegetable in the country. There are thousands of varieties, including beefsteak, plum, and small-size cherry, grape, and pear tomatoes. They are at their most flavorful in summer.

How to Buy
Often, the best-tasting tomatoes are grown locally. Look for ones that are fragrant, heavy for their size, and yield slightly to pressure. The skin should be smooth, brightly colored, and free of blemishes.

How to Prepare
Many recipes call for coring, seeding, or slicing tomatoes. Use a paring knife to core a tomato: Insert tip next to stem, then make a shallow cut all around; remove stem. To seed a tomato, cut in half lengthwise. Holding cut side down, gently squeeze to remove most of the seeds. Slicing a tomato is best done with a serrated or very sharp-bladed knife.

How to Store
Keep tomatoes at room temperature until ripe, and then use within a day or two. Don't refrigerate them, as it will affect their flavor.

Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and also contain vitamins A and B, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Cooked tomatoes are the main food source for lycopene, the phytochemical that gives them their red color and may offer protection against some types of cancer.





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