MyPlate suggests making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Luckily they come in a variety of colors, flavors, and textures, so even if you don’t like one fruit or vegetable, you might like another one.
With all this variety, it can be hard to keep track of how to store and use each one. That’s why we’ll be highlighting a popular vegetable–or fruit…well, we’ll get into that. Here we’re going to be talking about tomatoes and how to get the most out of them while saving money.
What’s a Tomato?
• Although botanically a fruit, tomatoes fall under the vegetable food group based on their nutrient content
• Tomatoes and 100% tomato juice belong in the red and orange vegetable subgroup
• Contains lycopene–an antioxidant that helps keep your heart and immune system healthy
Tomatoes of every size
Tomatoes come in different sizes and varieties. Here are three common types you can easily find at any grocery store:
• Beefsteak–Larger and moist. Commonly used on sandwiches because of their size.
• Roma–Slender and firm. Great to cook with and make into a sauce.
• Cherry/Grape–Smallest variety with the least water. Great as a fresh snack or a healthy salad topping.
At the store
• Look for brightly-colored tomatoes with shiny skins
• They should be soft, heavy for their size, and firm
• Size is not the best indicator, but smell is. Give it a sniff!
A warm season vegetable
In-season produce is likely to be cheaper, fresher, and tastier! You can also try canned tomatoes, which are cost-effective and have a longer shelf life. Look for no salt or low-sodium cans.
In the kitchen
• Keep your tomatoes at room temperature and use within a few days
• Refrigerate only when overripe to slow down spoilage
• Store unwashed and avoid stacking to prevent bruising
• Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before handling food.
• Rinse your tomatoes under cool runing water while gently rubbing the skins to remove excess dirt.
• Pat dry with a clean paper towel
• Cut off any bruises or cracked areas
Follow these safety tips while cutting any fruit or vegetable:
• Use a sharp knife to make slicing easier
• Dull knives are more likely to slip and cause injury
• Place a damp towel under your cutting board to stop it from moving
There are three different ways to cut tomatoes:
• Slice–For sandwiches
• Wedge–For salads
• Dice*–For cooked dishes
*Tip: Since sauces and juices tend to have less fiber than whole produce, try adding chunks of tomato and other vegetables to boost the nutrient content.
Tomatoes are a juicy vegetable with lots of possibilities! See video for more ideas on how to incorporate tomatoes into your meals.