Get your scorecards ready! Sharpen your pencils, polish your forks, and pull up a chair—the tomato season is upon us. Cherry tomato bushes are usually the first to produce, and since they keep producing, their season lasts the longest—and so is off and running!
The delightful cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme) is related to the original wild tomato roots once cultivated by the Aztecs in South America that got the conquistadors all excited. The modern cherry tom, however, has been tamed to grow in “determinate” varieties (contained growth and bush-like plants). That feature makes for a fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit!) that’s well-suited to grow on sunny balconies.
Tomatoes are off the hook in nutrients: 23 mg of vitamin C per cup. The famous antioxidant lycopene is only present in red tomatoes and gives them their color. But yellow tomatoes are richer than red in niacin and folates. And early season tomatoes like these tend to be rich in minerals. It may surprise you that each sweet, delicious cherry tomato has only three calories. And when sautéed or broiled they become even sweeter.
Preparation: Cut tomatoes for salads using a serrated knife. Serve sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, olive oil, basil leaves, some capers, salt, and pepper for a wonderful salata caprese.
Storage: Who could blame you if the cherry tomatoes are eaten out of hand and don’t make it to the table? Store at room temp for best flavor and use within a few days.