Outlines how to cut tomatoes correctly, which way to cut, and what to avoid if you want neat whole slices without crushing the tomato.
How to cut tomatoes: overview
It’s round, it’s red, it’s a tomato. The fruit, also known as the golden or love apple, is colloquially counted as a vegetable, but is actually a berry and is popular worldwide as an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes. Plump, ripe tomatoes taste like summer and give dishes such as burgers or pasta sauces that ‘certain something’.
The tomato is the fruit of the plant of the same name from the nightshade family. It is originally from South America. Through Spanish conquerors, merchants and travellers, she arrived in Europe. In Germany, tomato is now the most eaten vegetable ever. While it is mainly grown in greenhouses, it can also be planted in the open air at warmer latitudes.
What is the tomato made of?
Tomatoes are 95 percent water. As a result, they have only a few calories and carbohydrates and are well suited for diets. Otherwise, tomatoes contain a lot of vitamins A and C as well as potassium and folic acid, which has a positive effect on metabolism and strengthening of the immune system.
Another ingredient is lycopene. This antioxidant ensures the red colour of the fruit on the one hand and is responsible for providing protection so that pollutants place less strain on human body cells. In heated foods, by the way, the concentration of lycopene is higher as heating increases it.
The fruits produce the most nutrients when grown outdoors. Tomatoes from greenhouses are often less nutritious.
What are the tomato varieties?
Several thousand tomato varieties are known, which differ in taste, consistency and shape. There are white, yellow, green, red, pink and purple fruits. The many different types of tomatoes can be divided into four main categories: meat, bottled, round and cherry tomatoes. The number of fruit chambers determines the size of the tomato. These can have between two and ten fruit chambers.
How to cut tomatoes correctly: remove stem section first
Tomatoes are delicious and healthy, but when they are cut, they sometimes make us despair. Either the slices don’t look nice because the seeds fall out or the stem is difficult to remove. These expert tomato tricks make it easier in the kitchen.
The stem of the tomato should always be cut away. This not only contains small amounts of the poison solanine which can lead to nausea and headaches, but also tastes unpleasantly bitter and woody with large tomatoes. But what is the best way to remove the stem? As a rule, you halve the tomato and then separate the trunk with a knife out of the two halves. However, this method is not suitable if you want to have nice slices of tomato.
Pastry/icing cone removes the stem
A quick and easy trick: you simply take the jagged spout from a cream bag or cookie syringe. Through the spikes, the spout can be easily inserted into the trunk of the tomato. With a final slight lateral rotation, this is then simply leveraged out. The same works, by the way, with an apple seed. However, since the gutting is quite large, it is best suited for large and solid tomatoes.
Wine spout to remove the stem
The stem can also be easily scraped out with a wine pourer. This is an attachment for the bottle, which ensures that the wine can be served without dripping. For this purpose, the wine spout must be guided around the stem once and then lifted out with it. Since the wine spout is made of quite thin metal, it is easy to introduce into the tomato flesh. However, here the hole is slightly larger than with the spout.
How to cut tomatoes: position the stem cavity correctly
Once the stem is removed, you can devote yourself to the task of producing tomato slices. Especially lovers of tomato with mozzarella should know the problem: The seeds fall out of the tomato slices and land on the cutting board. But what is the reason for this?
The mistake is that many cut the tomato with the stem cavity (where you have removed the stem) pointing upwards. This angle for cutting destroys the structure of the chambers in which the seeds find support.
However, if you position the tomato in such a way that the stem cavity points to the left or right, you will ensure that the individual tomato chambers remain. The seed has enough hold on the tomato meat and does not fall out. So you get beautiful, even slices.
Use the right kind of serrated knife
If you have the wrong knife at hand, simple steps during cooking quickly become a problem. This also applies to tomato cutting: if the knife is too blunt, it will crush the tomato, and the flesh and juice splashes out on all sides. A serrated knife will cut the tomatoes without crushing them.
With a special tomato knife you can deal with the problem even better: In contrast to an all-purpose knife, it is equipped with a sawtooth serration, and the blade runs slightly pointed upwards. This automatically cuts into the fruit at a slight angle, which prevents the tomato from being crushed. Even very ripe and soft specimens cut into wafer-thin slices with a good tomato knife. However, if you don’t want to buy a special knife just for tomatoes, a normal small serrated knife will do very well.
Warning: avoid green tomatoes
Are the tomatoes still immature, so very green? Warning: do not eat them! In the case of immature tomatoes, the solanine content is particularly high and has a harmful effect on health. But this only applies to red tomatoes – and not to the green-meat varieties. You should let the tomatoes ripen in a sunny place in the kitchen until the fruits glow nicely tomato red.
How to store tomatoes
The right place to store mature tomatoes is a cool and dark location. Most people keep tomatoes in the fridge, but that’s not good for them: they lose their aroma too quickly and the flesh doesn’t ripen properly. Ideal is a storage room in the basement, if available.
Which tomato to use for what
Which tomato do I actually use for what? There are more than 2,500 different varieties of tomatoes. From round, oval, heart- or ovoid-shaped, large, small, firm, soft, red, yellow, green, black, white, striped everything is there. All have their special characteristics and of course a special taste. We have put together the most popular varieties in our small tomato atlas.
The common all-rounder
The classic spherical round or salad tomato weighs between 60 and 100 grams. The firm, even fruit brings a lot of flavour and is beautifully juicy. It can be used almost anywhere: in salad, on bread, as a base in soups and sauces or on the grill.
The aromatic shrub and vine tomatoes
Shrub or vine tomatoes contain less water. This and the fact that they are sold directly with the vine makes them taste particularly strong and spicy. It works well raw into the salad, but can also be wonderfully gratinated, steamed or grilled.
The Roma, bottle and egg tomatoes
Roma, bottle or egg tomatoes taste intensely spicy-sweet. The skin is very easy to remove, so you can use it ideally for cooking in the form of ketchup, chutney or sauces. By the way, they are also the classic varieties that we encounter in canned foods as peeled or pizza tomatoes and thus form the basis for delicious pizza or pasta sauces.
The oxheart tomatoes
The oxheart tomatoes are the “heavyweights” among the tomatoes and weigh up to one kilogram. They have more than three fruit chambers, are relatively low in juice and provide a lot of pulp. Ideal to develop a lot of flavour during slow simmering or baking. They are easy to chop and form a good basis for soups or sauces. Meat tomatoes are also perfect for filling and baking in the oven due to their size and texture.
The ‘snack’ miniature tomatoes
Miniature editions include dainty cherry, grape and cocktail tomatoes. They are juicy, crisp and concentrate their entire aroma on just twenty to forty grams. The elongated grape (sometimes called ‘date’) tomatoes are particularly fruity-sweet and are particularly popular with children.
The round cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, bring a little more acidity. Mini-Romatomatenare are particularly intense. Whole or halved, add salads, pasta or simmering dishes to the refreshing something.
TIP: Studies have shown that the “tomato chambers” contain three times as much flavor-enhancing glutamic acid as in pulp alone.
TIP: If you want to get rid of some liquid, salt the tomatoes and let them drain first. So you really only get rid of the water and keep the full tomato flavor.
Genevieve Dumas is a design, fashion, food and style writer who has worked on major magazines and mastheads in the United States and Europe.