4 Essential Tips for Cooking Tomatoes

Squid with Tomato and Mint Photo © Madeleine Hill
By Andrew Zimmern Posted March 05, 2015

Here, Andrew Zimmern offers tips for cooking with tomatoes and shares one incredibly easy recipe.

Here, tips for cooking with tomatoes and one incredibly easy recipe from star chef Andrew Zimmern.

Partners. Be aware of what you cook tomatoes with. The high acid content of the tomato slows down the cooking process of some other foods. Dried beans cooked with tomatoes added to the pot can take up to 20 percent more cooking time than beans without tomatoes added. If you have some unusually highly acidic tomatoes and you want a sweeter sauce, add finely grated carrots instead of sugar to the recipe. It will boost the natural sweetness of the final product with a vegetal kick instead of a treacle sugar rush.

Warnings. Never use an aluminum pot, pan or utensil when cooking tomatoes, or any other soft metal items for that matter. The acidity in the tomato doesn’t do well with them; they create a chemical reaction that can turn cooked tomatoes bitter and fade the color, and the food will absorb some of the aluminum! And guess what? The acid in the tomatoes can pit and discolor the aluminum cookware. But you shouldn’t be cooking with those anyway.

Fresh puree. For small volumes of fresh skinless tomato puree, I place the bloom end of the large tomatoes against the large holes of a standing box grater. I hold the flat of the stem end in my palm, and I grate quickly over a plate. The tomato puree falls to the plate, and the skin stays in your hand. Diane Kochilas taught me this seven years ago, and I love it!

Piling on. Don’t pile your tomatoes in a container that doesn’t breathe. I like my baskets or grass mesh plates, and I layer them single deep, stem end down to prevent bruises and premature rotting.

Sunstroke. Don’t ripen picked tomatoes in the sun. Put underripe tomatoes and stone fruits in a paper bag in cool, dark place, and magic happens. And never ever store them in the fridge, they turn mushy and flavorless. If you have tomatoes on the counter going bad, puree and freeze them, or simply freeze whole tomatoes and you can puree/strain later! They peel even easier when defrosted.

Get Andrew Zimmern's Recipe for Squid with Tomato and Mint

Related:
Andrew Zimmern's Kitchen Adventures
28 Incredible Tomato Recipes
More Recipes from Andrew Zimmern

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