Though often classified as a vegetable, tomato is actually a fruit and no matter how you pronounce it, tomato remains a delectable fruit, raw or cooked.
Available in various colors and sizes, the skin, flesh and seeds are edible, and despite being labeled toxic the leaves too can be consumed safely. The number of tomato varieties run into the thousands, from the huge beefsteak to tiny cherry tomatoes, but most carry a sweet, gently tangy flavor and taste great both in raw and cooked form.
Choosing tomatoes: When choosing the best tomatoes, make sure they are firm, yet soft, and bright in color. The sooner you eat a ripe tomato after it has been picked, the better it will taste. The leafy tops are a good sign of freshness, but make sure they are perky rather than wilted. Avoid any tomatoes that show signs of mould.
If you happen to buy a tomato that is under ripe and want it to ripen faster, place the tomato in a paper bag with a banana. As bananas ripen they produce ethylene gas which will speed up the process of ripening the tomato.
The type of tomato you buy should depend on what you intend to do with it. Here is a run-down of some of the most common types.
Beefsteak: These are the biggest tomatoes, and have a meaty texture with a sweet, mellow flavor. They are good for salads, grilling or stuffing.
Salad: This is the traditional British tomato. It is a good all rounder but needs to be ripened to bring in the best flavor.
Cherry: These are small and sweet and are best suited for salads, pasta sauces or roasted.
Plum: Plum tomatoes are available as a baby or full-grown and have an oval shape, with rich flavor and comparatively few seeds. They are good for making sauces and stews.
Green: There are two types of green tomatoes. One is unripe, and is quite tart but good for chutneys, or fried items. The other is a variety that stays green when ripe and has a tangy flavorthat is best suited for salads.
Yellow: These tomatoes ripen to a golden yellow color, and are good in salads, salsas and chutneys.