Everyone loves an easy BLT or tomato sandwich, but make the most of tomato season and branch out! Roast some tomatoes and serve them on toast with ricotta cheese or add them to a pasta or grain salad. Make a quick tomato galette or, if you have more time and want a classic North Carolina dish, Tomato Pie. Make panzanella (aka Italian bread salad) with raw or roasted tomatoes, basil, and other summer vegetables. Use a good crusty loaf of sourdough or a hearty cornbread. Try this Classic Italian Panzanella or this Cornbread Panzanella. Make an easy pasta sauce with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil. Serve it tonight for dinner or freeze it to enjoy mid-winter.
STORAGE: NEVER refrigerate a tomato because the cold breaks down the cell walls and causes tomatoes to go mushy. The best way to store a tomato is on your counter, on top of a cooling rack, so it has air flow. If you want a tomato to ripen more quickly, put it in a brown paper bag. As they ripen, tomatoes naturally release ethylene gas into the bag which hurries the ripening process along. This also means that if you want your tomatoes to keep longer/ripen less quickly, taking them out of the bag will allow them to ripen more slowly. TTCF farmers harvest their tomatoes at all levels of ripeness. That means some of the tomatoes you get will be perfectly ripe and ready to eat while others will need a few days to ripen. They are ready to use when fragrant and just soft to the touch.
- On canning tomatoes for the winter: Throw a tomato canning party! Grab some friends and go in on bulk tomatoes together. Spend one, sweaty day canning them with a garlic clove and some basil in each jar. At the end of the day everyone can cook and eat dinner together and then carry home several precious jars of tomatoes. You can make tomato sauce in huge batches and then can that. If you decide to can tomatoes, use a classic, red tomato or a sauce/Roma tomato rather than an heirloom variety. Heirlooms are too delicious eaten raw to warrant cooking them.
-On freezing tomatoes for the winter: You can freeze whole tomatoes, peeled or unpeeled, or sauce, in baggies. You don't have to peel them-- just cut out the stem scar and place them on a baking sheet so the sides don't touch and put the whole thing in the freezer. This way the tomatoes won't stick together and you can use just one or two at a time, as needed. Once frozen, quickly transfer them to a baggie, label with the date and stash in freezer for the winter. When it's time to use some, take them out, run them under tepid water and voila, the peel should easily come off! Frozen tomatoes will be mushy but are perfect for cooking and will definitely have that real tomato flavor so often missing in store-bought sauces.