The most flavorful tomatoes appear in farmers' markets from mid-summer to early autumn. Purists enjoy them sliced thickly and served with a mere sprinkling of coarse salt, though they're also delicious pureed into soup, layered in sandwiches and simmered for pasta.
For the best autumn tomatoes, visit farm stands, farmers' markets and natural-food stores for vine-ripened tomatoes, or grow your own. Choose organic tomatoes, if possible, as they are likely to be more flavorful. When fresh tomatoes are out of season, use canned (or packaged) imported plum tomatoes, usually called Italian tomatoes. They will have a much better flavor than will poor-quality fresh ones.
Store ripe tomatoes at room temperature for up to 3 days. If they are slightly unripe, put them in a sunny place for several days and they will ripen further. Although whole fresh tomatoes should not be refrigerated, cut tomatoes should be wrapped in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerated.
Wash and dry tomatoes to be sliced. Cut out the stem end and leave the tomatoes whole or cut them into crosswise or lengthwise slices or into wedges, or chop, according to the recipe. Pull off the stems of cherry tomatoes. Some recipes call for peeled and/or seeded tomatoes, usually when the tomatoes are to be chopped for a sauce.
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