Extremely popular and nutritious, tomatoes are in moderate to liberal supply throughout the year. Florida, California, Texas, and a number of other states are major producers, but imports supplement domestic supplies from late winter to early spring.
Best flavor usually comes from ‘home grown’ tomatoes produced on nearby farms. This type of tomato is allowed to ripen completely before being picked. Many areas, however, now ship tomatoes which are picked after the color has begun to change from green to pink. These tomatoes have flavor almost as satisfying as the home-grown ones.
If your tomatoes need further ripening, keep them in a warm place. Unless they are fully ripened, do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator – the cold temperatures might keep them from ripening later on. Once tomatoes are ripe, however, you may keep them in the refrigerator for some time.
When buying look for tomatoes which are well formed, smooth, well ripened, and reasonably free of blemishes. For fully ripe fruit, look for an overall rich red color and a slight softness. Softness is easily detected by gentle handling. For tomatoes slightly less than fully ripe, look for firm texture and color ranging from pink to light red.
Avoid overripe and bruised tomatoes (they’re both soft and watery) and tomatoes with sunburn (green or yellow areas near the stem scar) and growth cracks (deep cracks around the stem scar). Also avoid decayed tomatoes with will have soft, water-soaked spots, depressed areas or surface mold.