You know it, you’re going to bring home as many fresh tomatoes as you can carry from the farmers’ market! Here’s what to do when you get home:
Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. If tomatoes have been refrigerated they should be allowed to recover at room temperature for a day or two before eating (McGee, 2004, p. 331). If unripe, tomatoes exposed to fruits and vegetables that emit ethylene gas (e.g. banana, apple, pear) can help to speed up ripening. Put tomatoes in a bag with one of these fruits (Murray, et al., 2005).
When preparing tomatoes, serve them with fat (olive oil is really great, or processed in sauces or salsa to increase lycopene bioavailability. Never cook in aluminum or cast iron, as tomato acid will bind to these metals and produce a metallic flavor to whatever your are cooking, and may have harmful effects on your health (Murray et al., 2005).
Other Factors to consider: Lycopene is one of several nutrients found in the tomato plant. While some of these natural chemicals provide fantastic benefits to human health, they are part of the tomato plant’s defense system; and help it fend off pest invasions as it grows. The tomato is part of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, meaning that part of this defense system includes a stockpile other chemical defenses, usually alkaloids, which can be toxic to some individuals, causing inflammation and allergic reactions for susceptible individuals (Murray, et al., 2005).
McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.