Nothing beats the summer garden goodness of a bite-sized, sweet cherry tomato that squirts juice when you bite into it.
When I harvest cherry tomatoes, it’s usually two for me and one for basket. They are not only the perfect size to pop into my mouth, they are great for skewers, salads and roasting.
Cherry tomatoes are a cross between wild currant-type tomatoes and domestic garden tomatoes. They range from the size of a thumbnail up to the size of a golf ball. They have thin skins, are very juicy and come red, yellow, or orange.
Are grape tomatoes really cherry tomatoes? Grape tomatoes are oblong and shaped like grapes. They have thicker skins and are not as sweet. The flesh is meatier and less juicy. Grape tomatoes last longer than cherry tomatoes so they are less fragile and are more often found in grocery stores. Grape and cherry tomatoes can be used in any recipe, but just remember that the cherry tomatoes will add more juice to the recipe than grape tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes can vary in color, size and shape based on the variety. Sungold tomatoes are a great gold color, juicy and flavorful. Black cherry tomatoes have a smoky flavor and dramatic color.
Pick cherry tomatoes from the vine or at the market that have firm, taut skin and a deep color. Steer clear of ones that have burst. Cherry tomatoes, like all tomatoes, keep best at room temperature for best flavor. Refrigerating tomatoes gives them a mealy texture. In a bowl on the kitchen counter they can last up to three days, but not in my house; they would be gobbled by handfuls before then. The only time I would recommend putting tomatoes in the refrigerator is if they are perfectly ripe and your house is warm. Store in your refrigerator for up to two days, but bring them back to room temperature before using for fuller flavor.
Cherry tomatoes are great for hollowing out and stuffing with a cream cheese mixture, tuna salad, or a pate. Skewer cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls and drizzle with a balsamic glaze.
Roasted cherry tomatoes make an excellent addition to an antipasto platter or a sauce for pasta or fish. Scatter cherry tomatoes in a baking dish and toss with salt, olive oil and some basil. Roast for two to three hours at 200 degrees for tangy, concentrated tomato flavor. One way to use these roasted tomatoes is tossed with your favorite pasta and pesto. Or blend them with some vegetable stock to make a delicious tomato soup!
Sandra Brown is a WSU emeritus faculty and a WSU Clark County Extension Master Food Preserver. For additional recipes, food preservation and food safety information visit http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/?p=8163. Have questions? Call MFP Helpline at 564-397-5366.