Getting To Know The Tomato Including Cherry And Heirloom Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a very versatile ingredient in any kitchen. As pro chef’s we use tomatoes in a broad range of ways including, salads, soups, sauces and using tomato puree in many dishes. And of course, they are an ingredient used by many home cooks too. There are many different types of tomatoes used, although a few come up as being more commonly used by chefs than others. This range of tomatoes can include cherry and heirloom tomatoes, plumb tomato or even a silver fir tree tomato. Tomatoes can be easily grown at home and a fresh home grown tomato produces a much better quality of flavour than ones bought in many shops.
The 7 Most Common Tomatoes Used By Chefs And Their Uses
These are the most common tomatoes that are used by chefs and ways that they can be used in a range of dishes.
• Cherry Tomato
Cherry tomatoes are a small round tomato that can be used in cold salads or in hot dishes. Some common ways they can be used include: Kept whole or sliced in half across the diameter and tossed into a salad or a tomato pasta. Maybe a nicoise salad that can be served as a cold salad or a warm garnish in a tuna dish. Another great way to use these tomatoes is to dry them out under hot lights or in a low temperature oven. This method will enhance the flavour of the tomato and can be used in many canape recipes or starter dishes. The cherry tomato comes in a few colours with the red and yellow types being the most common used.
• Round Salad Tomato
The salad tomato is probably the most common type used in professional and home kitchens. It is a medium sized tomato that can be cut into wedges for a salad, sliced in half and grilled or maybe sliced to be used in a sandwich. A great tip when using a sliced tomato in a sandwich is to season the tomato (this means to add salt and pepper) to the top of the tomato. This will enhance the flavour of the tomato.
• Beefsteak Tomato
Beefsteak tomatoes are one of the larger tomato types. This makes them easy to fill in a stuffed tomato dish. These are also a nice tomato to use in a burger garnish as they can be sliced and one slice used in the garnish.
• Tom Berry Tomato
As I previously mentioned there are a vast range of tomatoes and the Tomberry tomato is a less common type. It is a tiny variety of tomato looking more like a berry than a tomato. Hence the name Tomberry! These tomatoes go well in salads and give an eye-catching look to the dish as they are an unusual variety of tomato.
• Plumb Tomato – Roma Tomato
The plumb tomato is a more oval shape of a tomato, shaped more like a rugby ball with a flat end. The Roma tomato being one of the most popular used as a tinned tomato or used to make tomato puree. The flesh is firm and the plumb tomato has a slender appearance.
• Heirloom Tomatoes
I have added heirloom tomatoes to the list, however they are not a specific tomato. Heirloom tomatoes are a massive range of types of natural tomatoes. To explain this, the heirloom tomato is left to naturally breed with no modifications taking place. They naturally pollunatte and cross breed. This produces a natural tomato with many different types to choose from. In many cases a premium is charged for the heirloom tomato and can be a more expensive type of tomato. They are popular to use in salads as they give a great natural taste with an eye catching apearance. And they also have some great names too…
Common Heirloom Tomatoes Include
- San Marzano
- Green Zebra
- Silver Fir Tree
- Mr Stripey
- Big Rainbow
- Three Sisters
- Black Plumb Cherry And Heirloom Tomatoes
I like to use heirloom tomatoes in a tomato salad. The heirloom tomatoes not only have a great taste they also come in a wide range of colours and sizes. So the tomato salad will have an eye catching appearance with lots of different colours, sizes and shapes of the tomato.
• Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
Tinned tomatoes are used a lot in many professional kitchens and home kitchens. Also there are two main types of tinned tomatoes the chopped and the whole tinned toms. The chopped toms are used a lot in professional kitchens when big batches are needed to be made. For example: a banqueting event needs 20 litres of tomato sauce, it is a lot easier to use a few large tins of chopped tomatoes than using fresh toms. The tinned tomatoes will also be less labour and a better option if sticking to a budget.
Growing Your Own Tomatoes From Seeds
It is possible for most people to grow their own tomatoes from seeds. If you have access to a greenhouse then a plumb tomato can be grown. Or if you just have a window ledge, a cherry tomato plant can be grown. It will all depend on the space you have for growing the plants. Although I have found growing my own tomatoes gives a great tomato in flavour and quality, the plants yield can be relatively small to the amount of room the plants take up.
The Preparation Of Tomatoes
To prepare tomatoes including the cherry and heirloom tomatoes, there are a couple of steps that can be taken. Firstly, pick the best tomatoes to use, free from any bruises and not to soft. Wash the toms under cold water rubbing the skin with your hands. This will remove any unwanted bits that have stuck to the outside of the toms. You will notice that tomatoes have an eye in the end of the tomato and this should be removed. The eye goes into the tomato and is unpleasant to eat. The eye can be removed with the tip of a knife, this takes some skill to do, so a melon baller can be used. Another option would be to cut the tomato into quarters and simply cutting the eye out. The smaller variety of tomatoes including the cherry tomato and Tomberry can have the eye left in.
What Is Tomato Puree?
Often in many recipes they will need tomato puree added to the dish. And this can include a beef stew, tomato sauce or vegetarian lasagne. Tomato puree made by cooking down and straining tomatoes until the mix becomes thick. Tomato puree is occasionally used by professional chef’s, however it is more commonly used in the home kitchen. Tips when using tomato puree: the puree is concentrated and can be very strong in flavour. Don’t overdo the quantity used in a dish and always cook the tomato puree out for at least five minutes before adding any liquid or wet ingredients.
There are many types of tomatoes out there. These tomatoes come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes. I like using cherry and heirloom tomatoes for the varieties available, with different textures, shapes and a great flavour. Tomatoes are also full of nutritional benefits for a healthy diet. Tomatoes can be sliced, diced, pureed, consome, soups, sauces and of course a great cherry and heirloom tomatoes salad. I hope you have found my article interesting and you know have a better understanding of the tomato.