Your ultimate guide for cooking and eating tomatoes

Pasta, pizza, BLTs – it’s fair to say all our favourite foods just wouldn’t be the same without the humble tomato!

We’ve teamed up with Countdown to bring you the ultimate guide to storing, cooking and devouring this delicious fruit (or vegetable, if you just can’t be convinced it is a fruit).

How to store your tomatoes

Think again before you put your tomatoes in the vege crisper. Tomatoes taste their best when stored at room temperature, so be sure to always avoid the fridge. Remove tomatoes from any packaging they might be in, then pop them in a bowl or on a plate and keep where there’s natural light. This way they’ll continue to ripen in colour and flavour, and achieve all that juicy deliciousness a good tomato should have. Tomatoes can be kept for up to two weeks.

If your tomatoes are taking a little longer to ripen, keep them near your fruit bowl. Other fruit (especially bananas) help speed up the process, so you won’t have to wait too long to dig in.

Try these chicken and tomato rice cups for a delicious gluten-free lunch.

Where do my tomatoes come from?

Ever wondered where those ruby red toms come from? Watch a Kiwi grower explain how they get from the hothouse to the shelves to your kitchen.

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So, what types of tomatoes are there?

There are more than 7500 speciality tomato varieties around the world (yup, you read that right). In New Zealand, we’re lucky enough to get a wide choice in the tomatoes we eat, all year round. For small, sweet bursts of flavour, we love cherry tomatoes, Suga Babe, Jelly Bean and Pomorosso. These varieties are perfect for throwing into kids’ lunchboxes, snacking on or tossing through salads.

If you’re after deep, rich flavour, you can’t go past vine-ripened (otherwise known as truss) tomatoes. These tomatoes have been left on the vine until ripe to lock in all the best flavour. You can buy all different types of truss varieties including standard, cherry, acid-free and romagna on the vine for red ripe, juicy tomatoes.

Romagna (also known as roma or Italian tomatoes) have an oval shape with dense flesh, less seeds and juice than other tomato varieties. Try slow roasting to create your own sundried tomatoes, chopping into salsa or slicing thickly and enjoying with fresh mozzarella and basil.

Acid-free varieties such as plum, low-acid and roma are a great alternative for anyone who’s sensitive to tomatoes. While not totally acid-free, they do have much lower acid than average tomatoes.

Pack a lunchbox with this roasted tomato and pesto pasta for a bite on the go.

How to enjoy tomatoes at any time of the day

For breakfast

Nothing beats sliced tomato on buttery toast with a good dose of salt and pepper. However if you feel like making the start to your day a little more exciting, our sausage and tomato omelette makes a delicious change, while our roasted tomato strata is perfect for a vegetarian-friendly family breakfast or brunch.

For lunch

For pizza fans, our tomato pastry pizzas are a game-changer. Packed with all the flavours you love but without the effort, these are perfect served in slices for a lazy midday bite. For a delicious gluten-free lunch our chicken and tomato rice cups are a must-try. If all else fails, tomato soup with a cheese toastie is a winner! If you’re on the go, a lunchbox of our roast tomato and pesto pasta is sure to go down a treat.

For dinner

Tomatoes are a family-friendly dinner staple. Try a mixture of canned and fresh tomatoes in this easy oven-baked risotto, or use lush vine-ripened tomatoes in this one-dish sausage, bean and tomato bake. For fussy eaters, pasta is a no-brainer. Try these cheesy stuffed meatballs and spaghetti with cherry tomatoes.

Snacks and small bites

If entertaining is the name of the game, tomatoes are a delicious option. For easy hors d’oeuvres, try these little tomato and feta sticks, serve these tomato and cheese damper rolls for a tasty afternoon tea or pop these tomato tarts out at snack time.

This one-pan sausage, bean and tomato bake makes dinner and dishes easy.

How to make your own sauces and jams

If your tomato addiction demands a bit more creativity than slapping some in a sandwich, why not make your own preserves? Marinara sauce, tomato jam and chunky tomato chutney are easier to create from scratch than you think.

The trick to achieving a professional result? Peeling your tomatoes before you preserve! To peel tomatoes, cut a cross in the stalk end, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds then transfer into iced water. The skins should slip off easily.

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