How to: tasty tomatoes

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Cabrina Buckman

Let’s continue the summer garden series with a new vegetable of the week: tasty tomatoes.

The season for tomatoes lasts from July through October.  Tomatoes are packed with nutrients including fiber, carotenoids and vitamins, especially vitamins C and A.  When picking your tomatoes, look for those that are firm, well-shaped, fragrant and rich in color.  They should be free from blemishes and give slightly to pressure.  Three to four medium tomatoes weigh about one pound.  One pound of tomatoes yields about two-and-a-half cups of chopped tomatoes or three cups of wedges or sliced tomatoes. Store ripe tomatoes at room temperature and use them within three days, keeping them out of direct sunlight.  Place green tomatoes in a paper bag to ripen them.

Many of you grow tomatoes in order to can tomato juice or salsa.  If you need recipes or more information about canning, please call us at the Washington County Extension Office at 336-7741.  Tomatoes can be prepared in many different ways.  The first step to each is to wash your tomatoes in cool running water.  Then, follow these instructions:

To peel: Place tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer them to cold water.  Skins will slip off.

To Seed: Scrape seeds away from the flesh with a pointed utensil.  Avoid puncturing the skin.

To Slice: Slice lengthwise to retain the juice.  A serrated knife works best.

To broil: Cut tomatoes in half crosswise.  Dot them with margarine and sprinkle with an herb mixture.  Broil tomatoes until they are tender and topping is lightly browned.

To bake: Cut tomatoes in half crosswise.  Dot them with margarine and seasoning.  Bake at 425 degrees farenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.

To stuff: Cut off stem end and scoop out seeds and pulp.  Sprinkle the cavity lightly with salt and turn it upside down on a paper towel to drain.  Stuff the tomato with your favorite salad of seafood, meat or pasta.

To microwave: Cut tomato in half crosswise, then dot with margarine and seasoning.  Microwave on high for three to four minutes for four halves.

I’m sure that all of you have your favorite tomato recipes.  If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy your tasty tomatoes, try the recipe below:

• 4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
• 1/4 cup diced fresh basil leaves
• 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
• 1 loaf Italian bread (12 x 5-inch), cut into one-inch slices
• 1 large garlic clove, peeled

Heat broiler or light grill.  In a medium-size bowl, mix tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Broil or grill bread until golden brown on both sides.  Place toast slices on large platter.  Rub garlic over tops then brush with oil.  Use a slotted spoon to top toast with tomato mixture.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 slices

Nutritional Analysis: 120 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g sat. fat, 3 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 0 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium

Source: “Kentucky Green Beans.” Sarah Ball Brandl, Family and Consumer Sciences, Nutrition Education Programs.