Tomatoes are just as frequently eaten raw as they are cooked. Raw tomatoes are refreshing and slightly tangy, while cooking tomatoes brings out their juiciness and sweetness. There are many ways to cook tomatoes depending on the recipe.
Tomatoes are tastiest if left to ripen on the vine. However, to ripen picked tomatoes, they can be stored in a paper bag for a few days at room temperature. If you store them in the fridge, take them out 30 minutes before use to allow them to warm to room temperature as this will enhance the flavour.
Peeling and deseeding tomatoes
Peeling and deseeding tomatoes is by no means necessary, though some recipes call for it. Peeling can reduce cooking time and deseeding reduces the water content of tomatoes.
To peel tomatoes, score a cross in the bottom of the tomato, just enough to pierce the skin. Place the tomato in a bowl of boiling water for 10-15 seconds (any longer will cause the tomato to begin to cook), then remove the tomato and place it in a bowl of icy water, or run it under the cold tap. The skin should now peel off very easily. To deseed the tomato, cut it in half and gently squeeze or scoop out the seeds.
Roasting or grilling
It is difficult to overcook tomatoes when roasting or grilling, but it is worth keeping your eye on them so you are ready to take them out when they are a soft and juicy, just as you choose. Halve the tomatoes, and coat them in oil, garlic, or other seasonings to taste.
Place them on a baking tray and roast for about an hour. The skins will begin to shrivel, and the tomatoes will become juicier. Alternatively, grill the tomato halves for 3-5 minutes, until grill marks appear.
When frying tomatoes, choose a variety that is fairly firm and not too juicy, or they may fall apart in the frying pan. Cut the tomato into slices about ½ inch thick, and season, before frying for about 2 minutes on each side.
Some people like to coat the tomatoes in a layer of flour or cornflour before frying as this adds a little extra crunch to the tomatoes, and gives them a golden colour.
Tomatoes are a popular ingredient to puree. Generally the skins are removed before pureeing. Blend the tomatoes and if you do not want to include the seeds in the puree, sieve at this stage. Add seasonings, such as pepper, salt, fresh herbs, and onions, garlic or chillies to the tomatoes, to required taste, and simmer for 30-60 minutes, until the desired consistency. The longer you simmer the tomatoes, the thicker the puree will be.