The tomato is native to South America, but the first to effectively domesticate the plant were the Aztects of Central Mexico. Historians believe that the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez - after capturing the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, in 1521- may have been the first to export the tomato to Europe and the rest of the world.
Peak season is mid-July through October, but they are available all year long.
Beefsteak: The largest variety of cultivated tomatoes, they can weight half a kilogram or more. Light pink or red in color, they are most commonly used in sandwiches or other raw dishes.
Cherry: Small round tomatoes with usually a bright red color. Great for salads or as a fresh snack, their size also makes them perfect for frying.
Globe: These medium-sized tomatoes are the most uniform in size, hence the name. Available in red, yellow or green colors, they have a mild flavor and are a versatile compliment to many dishes, from salads to mains.
Campari: Very sweet and juicy, the Campari is low in acidity and lacks the mealiness of many larger tomatoes. It’s bigger than a cherry tomato but smaller than a plum tomato, it has a lovely deep red hue and its ideal for sauces or stews.
Grape tomatoes: The smallest tomatoes available, they are sweet and teardrop in taste. Great for salads, they also make a lovely lunch box addition for kids.
Plum or Roma: Oval or cylindrical in shape, the plum tomato also has a much lower density of seeds and more flesh than other tomatoes, making it the most common choice for sauces and processing. Plums are great in almost all Italian recipes, or just as a regular fresh tomato.
Most tomatoes are picked when still green and ripened artificially, so look for organic tomatoes, or those from farmers’ markets, which will have superior flavor due to having ripened naturally. Also, look for tomatoes that are still on the vine as they always have more flavor.
While fully ripe tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator, they are best kept at room temperature to keep them from losing their flavor.