What Are Cherry Tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes got their name from being a similar shape of to a cherry, and also because they are considerably sweet (remember, tomatoes are indeed a fruit!). They come in sizes anywhere from the size of a golf ball to the size of your thumbnail.
Cherry tomatoes are perfect for snacking or roasting with veggies. Adding cherry tomatoes to a vegetable platter always adds nice color and vibrancy. Cherry tomatoes are traditionally from South America, in the Peru/Ecuador area. These little tomatoes were not a cultivated creation as many assume. They can actually be traced back thousands of years.
What Do Cherry Tomatoes Look Like?
Cherry tomatoes can vary widely in shape, color, or size. The color will typically range from red to green, but you can also find orange, yellow, deep purple, even black, as well as tomatoes with striated coloring. The black tomatoes look the most similar to real cherries. The shape of cherry tomatoes is typically close to spherical, but oblong or pear-shaped cherry tomatoes are also common.
Substituting for Cherry Tomatoes
The best substitute for cherry tomatoes is typically grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes look very similar to cherry tomatoes, shaped more like grapes than cherries (unsurprisingly). Grape tomatoes tend to be crunchier but a little less sweet.
In some instances, diced larger tomatoes are a better alternative, especially when you are looking for that level of juicy sweetness, in salads, for instance.
If you are cooking the tomatoes, you might also consider canned tomatoes. You can even find canned cherry tomatoes, usually from Italy, in upscale markets. These aren’t a good solution for uncooked dishes, but they are useful in cooked dishes, like pasta sauces, casseroles, and so on.
Where Do You Find Cherry Tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes will be found in almost every grocery store in the produce section. They might be in the refrigerated section, though often they are just stacked on displays at room temperature. Cherry tomatoes will also be found at most farmers markets when they are in season, which depends on where you live, but they are abundant in the warm weather months. Buy a lot, and use them in all kinds of ways (see below for recipe ideas!).
And home gardeners often start with cherry tomato plants, which are easy to find, plant, and tend. They are some of the easiest plants to grow, especially for a rookie gardener.
How to Pick Cherry Tomatoes
In a store, you want to look for the brightest-colored cherry tomatoes that are firm. Typically you cannot touch them since they are encased in packaging but you can usually tell the firmness by how taut the skin is. Ideally, the skin will be firm and a bright color. Avoid packages where any of the cherry tomatoes have burst or have wilted or wrinkled at all.
When picking cherry tomatoes right off of the plant, you will want to wait until the tomatoes are bright in color and have a firm texture. This will usually mean the cherry tomatoes are about 1 to 2 inches long. The tomatoes that are ready to be picked will usually fall right off of the vine when you attempt to pick them.
How to Store Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes can be left at room temperature outside of direct sunlight to keep them from wilting. Moving cherry tomatoes into the fridge will slow down the ripening process.
How to Quickly Ripen Cherry Tomatoes
To speed up the ripening process, cherry tomatoes need to be trapped with ethene gas. To hasten your tomatoes’ ripening, you can put them in a dark, room-temperature place, like a paper lunch bag or box. If you want to speed up the process even further, you can add one of the fruits known to emit a lot of ethene gas. Add an apple or a banana to the tomatoes for maximum speed-ripening results.
How to Cook Cherry Tomatoes: Everything you need to know about choosing, storing, preparing and cooking cherry tomatoes – plus recipes!Tweet This
Cooking with Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are commonly eaten raw, but cooking with them intensifies their flavor. This is handy if your tomatoes aren’t at full ripeness since the cooking process will accentuate the tomato flavor.
Cherry tomatoes are often roasted or sautéed. They are less likely to be used in a sauce as there is a lot of skin in relation to the meaty flesh inside. Unless you are putting the sauce through a food mill, you will end up with a bunch of skins in the sauce, which can be a little unpleasant in terms of texture and even taste. Learn more about How to Roast Cherry Tomatoes.
How to Freeze Cherry Tomatoes
Freezing cherry tomatoes is the easiest way to preserve cherry tomatoes. Once defrosted, these tomatoes are best used in cooked, and not that great to use simply defrosted and raw in salads and other uncooked dishes.
- Pick through your cherry tomatoes and freeze only the ones that are firm and unblemished.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes.
- Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, so that they are not touching, and place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 2 hours until frozen.
- Transfer the cherry tomatoes to an airtight freezer bag or container, leaving as little air in the container as possible. Label and freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost at room temperature.