Vine Stem Tomatoes
A tomato is a fruit but in the United States we treat it like a vegetable. They didn't become popular in the U.S. until after the Civil War. Now the tomato is the third most popular vegetable/fruit in the United States - after potatoes and lettuce.
A real good tomato is sweet, tender and juicy with a real rich red color, and that's just what these vine cluster tomatoes are. In the winter, fall and spring tomatoes with a real taste are hard to come by; these have the taste.
Grown in hothouses, they originated in Israel first, then Holland and now are grown all over the world. Spain, Canada and the U.S. have lot of hothouse or greenhouse tomato farms. The tomatoes are picked with the stems still attached and this is for a couple of reasons. First, the tomato can stay on the vine longer becoming more red and sweeter. Next, the tomatoes will still be getting nutrients from the stem, which makes it last longer and sweeter. Like all tomatoes, you never want to refrigerate them because they will lose their flavor and texture. You should not wash or remove the stem until you are ready to use. Also, never ripen on the window sill or in the sun. Just leave them out on the counter and never, never, never refrigerate.
When selecting, look for a good red color, check to see if the stems are still attached, and give them a smell. Vine cluster tomatoes will have that fresh, homegrown smell and a great taste. Here's a little story that I thought you might enjoy.
We have all kinds of upscale restaurants, and there is a lot of interest in complicated cuisines, but sometimes it's the really simple things that give you the most pleasure. When I was a kid, I had to help my father sell produce out of the back of his truck. At lunchtime he'd stop at some little store and buy a loaf of Italian bread. Then we'd find a place where we could pull off to the side of the road. He'd put down a piece of cardboard for a cutting board, slice the bread, cut up a tomato and an onion, and make tomato sandwiches.
Sometimes when I come home from the store and I'm too bushed to prepare or even eat a full meal, I'll make myself a tomato sandwich. Food brings back memories. You can sit down with the most ordinary things on your mind and eat something good and it will bring back memories - things you haven't thought about in years. Even memories that might not start out being so good seem to improve as time goes by. At the time I hated peddling fruits and vegetables out of that truck with Pop, but now I wish I had the time to pull off to the side of the road they way we did then. We don't have the luxury of slowing down - everything is geared to working and being productive. Produce, produce, produce. Wouldn't I love to be able to take my son and go sit by the side of the road and have a tomato sandwich? With the perfect ripe red tomato and good bread, there's nothing' better.
Other recipes from Produce Pete.