I heart tomatoes. I really do. I always have. There is something very special about popping a tomato fresh from the vine, warmed by the sun, into your mouth... My kids eat them like candy. I always grow a cherry tomato variety and a paste/plum tomato variety. The cherries are for salads and snacking and the pastes are for canning salsas, sauces, ketchups, tomato jam and whatever else my little heart desires. Other produce I can get overwhelmed with when it starts coming in all at once, but not tomatoes. Tomatoes I know how to handle.
When I worked at the farmers market I learned a cool trick about storing tomatoes that I thought might be helpful to share. Tomatoes store best and longest when they are stem side down. Well, you take the stem off but then store it stem side down. Like this :
I call it a tomato head stand. The shoulders of the tomato are not as delicate as the bottom and when kept like this they will last longer. They also won't roll around on you.
Put them on a windowsill, they will store well. If you want then to ripen faster, or if you want to get some end of the season tomatoes to ripen, put them in a brown paper bag at room temperature. If you wait a couple of days they will ripen in that way. If you want to prolong their life or buy yourself some time while you gather supplies for canning, or say, take a short weekend getaway to Paris like we all do at least once a month, then you can store them in a box in a deep dark corner of you basement. A cool place, not a cold place like your refrigerator... I never, never, never put my beautiful tomatoes in the refrigerator. After a couple of days it will make the tomatoes texture get all mealy. You can get away with it for a couple of days in a pinch but it's really not necessary. I found a well written article on the science behind what makes tomatoes get mealy by Robert L. Wolke, written here in the Washington Post if you care to do some extra reading on the subject. However, as a general rule I say, don't do it. Never.
OK so there's one exception; if you have already cut up a tomato but not used the whole thing, then, and only then, should you store in in the refrigerator. There's just no need.
So now you have some gorgeous tomatoes ready for eating. There are so many great recipes out there. But sometimes simple is best. When I would visit my Grandmother C's in the summer, lunch was always the same. You would think I would have gotten sick of the same thing for lunch everyday, after all, young kids seem to gain and lose interest in things faster then the time it takes a light to turn from red to green, but I didn't. I looked forward to lunch everyday. What she made that was so delectable was a toasted tomato sandwich.
It takes all of four ingredients; bread (toasted), miracle whip, fresh sliced tomatoes, and a teeny tiny sprinkling of salt. Slice it in half and call it lunch. Too confusing? Here are some pictures :)
Step one: Take the toasted bread of crunchiness and slather both sides with the sweet creaminess of miracle whip.
Step two: Layer up the yummy tomatoes of yumminess onto the bread. Then sprinkle with the teeny tiny sprinkling of salt.
Step three: Take a deep breath, you are almost done, put the whole sha-bang together and cut it in half. This is the tricky part, are you a cut down the middle kind of a person or more of a corner to corner cutter...decisions decisions.
Step four: consume.