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A Galaxy of Tomatoes

Fine Cooking Issue 59
Photos: Scott Phillips
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There’s an amazing variety of tomatoes at the market these days, ranging in size from tiny currant tomatoes to giant beefsteaks and in colors from green to brownish purple. But not all are multi-purpose. Here are some of the types of tomato you might find at your farmers’ market or grocery store.

PLUM: Also called a Roma or Italian tomato, this egg-shaped meaty tomato can be red or yellow. It’s good for cooking and canning because its water content is relatively low, and it yields lots of thick sauce.
CHERRY: Red, orange, yellow, or green, this round bite-size tomato is about an inch or less in diameter. Red and yellow varieties have a more pronounced flavor. Use for salads, garnishes, quick sautés, and eating out of hand.
PEAR: Also called “teardrop,” this bite-size tomato has a shape that mirrors its two names. It can be yellow, red, or orange. It’s slightly smaller and much milder than a cherry tomato, but its uses are the same.
GRAPE: Another bite-size tomato, this one is sweet and shaped like an elongated sphere (just like a grape). It’s usually red or yellow and less than an inch in diameter. Use like cherry and pear tomatoes.
SLICER OR GLOBE: Ranging from golfball to baseball size, this generally juicy, flavorful tomato comes in all colors. A good tomato for slicing and for salads.
BEEFSTEAK: This jumbo juicy tomato has an irregular, pumpkin-like shape and comes in all colors. It’s good cooked or raw (it has an intense tomatoey flavor), and, though messy, great for thick slices.
GREEN: There are two kinds—tomatoes that remain green when fully ripe, such as the tangy Zebras shown here; and red tomatoes picked before they ripen, which are quite tart and best used for frying or broiling and in relishes.
HEIRLOOM: This name refers to any time-honored tomato variety grown from open-pollinated seeds. They may be sensitive to weather and disease, but their flavor can be exceptional.


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