Friday, August 21, 2009

Tomato chemistry

Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo
Lettuce and Tomato on Toasted Ciabatta with Basil Mayo
BLT on Rustic White Toast

Also have Blueberry Marmalade Coffee Cake and Nutmeg Crumb Coffee Cake just out of the oven.

In the next few weeks my personal food goal is to sample every variety of tomato to be found at local farmers markets. So far my favorite has been an orange fleshed slicing tomato that I got from the Kennilworth Market. One of the vendors (whose name I will remember to take down this week) has won my affection by offering many varieties of large tomatoes as well as Roma, cherry and pear tomatoes in every conceivable color and she has fresh shelled lima beans. Did I mention she is directly across from a bread vendor?

A few tid-bits about the selection and care of tomatoes. Use your nose! If you've never grown tomatoes the vine has a unique smell and fresh tomatoes smell like tomato and their vine. The scent will be strongest on the blossom end (the part of the fruit not attached to the vine).

Select firm, heavy fruit with a smooth, tight skin with no bruises and handle them with care. When you get home store the tomatoes on the counter or in a cubbard stem side up and out of direct sun. Do not, under any circumstances, put them in the refigerator!

A compound called Z-3 hexenel is responsible for the flavor and scent of tomatoes. The process that turns linolenic acid to the lip smacking tastiness of Z-3 is inhibited by cold temperatures resulting in mealy tomatoes that have been robbed of flavor.

If by chance in your enthusiasm to celebrate tomato season, you purchase more tomatoes than your family can eat roast them! If you haven't done this before be prepared for one of those head slapping "why didn't I know this" moments.