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Best tomato types for each cooking use, 5 types

Varieties of tomato in a crate, with each type used differently

There are several thousand tomato varieties, each with its own shape, color, size and taste. Let’s take a look at 5 of them, and how best to use them…

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Cherry tomato, perfect for appetizers

Cherry tomatoes in a small dish for appetizersAh, that first juicy bite! Sweet sensations dribble down your throat. This bite-sized treat packs a lot of taste for such a small tomato! Cherry tomato, more often than not, is simply munched on raw. No wonder, it’s so tasty!

Red ones are the most common, but there are more and more new colors, too, like yellow or black. Slightly larger, cocktail tomatoes can be carved out and filled in with cream cheese, for instance. Cherry tomato is excellent for skewers and grilling on sticks.

Cluster tomato for tossed salads

Cluster tomatoes in a bowl, ready for a saladA direct competitor to the traditional round tomato, cluster tomatoes were first commercially bred in 1995. Today, more than half of tomatoes grown and sold are of this type. Gourmets love its stronger taste, perfect when paired with other vegetables in a tossed salad. It’s often a bit more expensive, too. The Saint Pierre tomato is a famous example.

Important tip: don’t store this one in the refrigerator, or it’ll turn mealy.

Plum tomato, ideal for sauces

Roma tomato on the plantThe most famous plum tomato is the Roma tomato. Fleshy, but not so juicy, this long egg-shaped tomato holds well to cooking. Its flesh will stay bright red, and remain firm.

Typical uses for this one include tomato sauce and cooked sides. About 5% of the world’s tomato production is plum tomato.

Another tasty example is the Andine Cornue.

Beefsteak tomato, suited to stuffing

Beefsteak tomato stuffed with a creamy filling for bakingMost of these are also in the “ribbed tomato” category, since they have such a distinctive shape. Among these, several heirloom varieties are resurfacing and appearing in stores and farmer’s markets, such as the beefsteak tomato, marmande and the Cuor di bue tomato.

One would often eat it whole, with the inside carved out and stuffed with a variety of ingredients before being baked in an oven. Its abundant flesh also makes for great ratatouille, gazpacho… and even sherbet ice cream!

Pineapple tomato, an American breed great for drying

Pineapple tomato has very firm flesh, so it's best used driedNot so common yet in Europe, the pineapple tomato is famous throughout the United States. It owes its name to the pinkish markings inside the orange-yellow flesh, they look somewhat similar to its namesake fruit, the pineapple.

Although the taste is delicate and light, pineapple tomatoes are unique in their texture: it is much more dense than other varieties. It’s best-tasting sliced and dried.

Note also the Black Krim tomato which many appreciate for its beautiful dark color and unique taste, especially in salads.


Images: Pixabay: Cornelia Gerhardt, Bernadette Wurzinger, Hans Braxmeier, Hartmut Rühl, Monika, Sommerwolke
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