Whether homegrown or store-bought, tomatoes are a perfect food—and there’s no better time to enjoy them than now. We asked three experts for their go-to picks, plus advice on how to choose, store and eat them.
Andrea Carlson, chef-owner of Burdock & Co, Harvest Community Foods and Bar Gobo, Vancouver
My first pick is Sungold tomatoes, specifically from Milan Djordjevich at Stoney Paradise Farm in Kelowna. I love Sungolds straight, but they’re also magical if you just purée them with some nice olive oil for a chilled Sungold soup.
Another favourite is the Striped German. It’s a giant heirloom tomato that displays every shade of pink and yellow like a sunset when you cut into it. It’s gorgeous, with the most amazing texture, and it cooks down beautifully to the most incredibly rich, creamy kind of base for any sort of stewed legume dish. One of my favourite things to do is a cassoulet dish right at the end of summer that’s cooked with some fresh harvest legumes, like borlotti beans.
My tip is to go to the farmers’ market and buy from the producers you know. To extend the life of tomatoes, I store them at room temperature on a tea towel out of the sun. Don’t put them in the fridge, because that’ll ruin their texture. And if there are fruit flies, just put another tea towel overtop.
David Liscombe, research scientist, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Lincoln, Ont.
I’m a big fan of the brown Kumato, and this year, I’m really enjoying Cherto cherry tomatoes. Both varieties are consistently firm and sweet, with a strong aroma and aftertaste.
When buying, I look at fruit quality, avoiding tomatoes with blemishes or mould, and those that are overripe. I also look at where they’re from, because I prefer to purchase Canadian-grown. I always store tomatoes at room temperature. I love eating them fresh, on their own, or in a caprese salad with basil, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil and black pepper.
Irene Ngo, food editor, Chatelaine, Toronto
Growing your own tomatoes is ideal, but I don’t have a garden, so I’m a big fan of President’s Choice Axiany cherry tomatoes. They’re sweeter than most others I’ve tried and are always flavourful and juicy, even in the off-season. When I’m purchasing, I check to make sure none of the tomatoes have burst (which can encourage mould growth), and I keep them on my countertop at room temperature. These little tomatoes are so good that they never last long. I always eat them raw—either on their own as a snack or halved in salads.