Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How do you handle your tomatoes?

In my column  this week, I raised the question of whether we should place tomatoes stem-up or stem-down on the counter. After hearing the debate among the experts, I came away from the research thinking about how you actually have been set free to do what your tomato needs you to do:

If you have a tomato that needs to ripen, you could go stem-up, so that it releases moisture and the weaker shoulder around the stem doesn't get bruised while you're waiting.

If you have a tomato that already is ripe and you want to make it last a few days longer, you could place it stem down, to slow moisture loss through the stem scar.

Of course, there's always more information than I can fit into the space for my column. Please note that even though America's Test Kitchen experimented with putting tape over the stem scar, you should be careful with that idea. Plant pathologist Jerry Bartz of the University of Florida points out that sealing the scar too tightly,  particularly with something like paraffin, could interrupt the entry of oxygen into the tomato interior enough to create an anaerobic environment, which allows the growth of some dangerous bacteria.

Also, no one disagrees on the issue of refrigerating uncut tomatoes, which taste best at room temperature. Once you slice a tomato, you should move it to the refrigerator if you're not going to use it within a couple of hours.

How about you? How do you handle your tomatoes? And are you likely to change?