L&B Tomato Guide
For many of us, tomatoes are a staple — there’s always a basket of cherry tomatoes or a few beefsteak in the kitchen. This is especially true in the summer months, when tomatoes are at their best, and it’s a rare week that passes without grilled hamburgers, a leafy green salad, chips and salsa or some such warm-weather delight.
For that very reason, it’s easy to overlook the tomato’s complexity — the fruit comes in a thrilling variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, and each one has its own texture and flavor. And the tomato you’d pick for snacking, may not be the one you want to layer with basil, mozzarella and balsamic glaze in a Caprese Salad.
At Lunds & Byerlys, we love tomatoes, and we pride ourselves on carrying a fine selection. This guide includes tasting notes for many of our popular tomatoes — so you can find the perfect tomato for your cooking project.
These juicy little tomatoes come in many colors, so their flavor can vary, but they’re generally pretty sweet and tangy. They have a thin, snappy skin and they’re high in water — which is why they’re famous for spurting tomato everywhere when you bite into them.
They bring that same, plump to bursting quality to recipes: They’re terrific in warm pastas, baked chicken dishes and ratatouille. But our favorite way to eat them is raw, one after another — they’re perfect for snacking and packing in lunch boxes.
In culinary terms, “vine-on” means the tomatoes ripened on the vine, so they had a little bit more time to soak up all the plant’s nutrients than, say, a factory-ripened tomato. They tend to be sweet, herbaceous and very juicy with a firm, meaty texture that lends itself well to cooking.
We like to roast vine-on tomatoes with olive oil, herbs and a little garlic and use them in gazpacho, tomato-basil soup, savory tomato jams and bruschetta.
Grape tomatoes are small, like cherry tomatoes, but there the commonalities end. Grape tomatoes have a wonderful crispy, crunchy texture. They’re low in water content and deeply sweet, especially the yellow variety.
Because of their firm texture, grape tomatoes are perfect for barbecue skewers. They won’t fall apart on you, and the grill brings out their sweetness. They’re also the one we want raw on salads — they won’t water down the dressing, but they will add tons of texture and flavor.
First of all, these tomatoes are cute: They’re little, like a golf ball, perfectly round, and deep red. Camparis are high in sugar and low in acid, so they taste sweet and fruity. Their flesh is nice and firm — no mealiness here — which makes them great in heat.
We like to stuff camparis with meat, veggies and breadcrumbs and bake them. Their size also makes them perfect for layering into tomato tarts — think buttery French pastry, crème fraîche and basil.
Beefsteaks are just what they sound like — the biggest, juiciest red tomatoes in the land! They have a mild, classic tomato flavor that’s more herbaceous and tangy than sweet.
Slice these beauties and layer them on your hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and BLTs. They’re also our favorite for making salsa fresca.
Romas are shaped like plums. They have bright, tangy flavor, but they’re famous for their texture. Romas have very few seeds and a thick, grainy flesh that’s fairly dry.
Because of those features, romas are the quintessential sauce tomato. Use them to make your bolognese, pizza sauce and stewed tomatoes. Romas are also terrific in places where a juicy tomato might be ruinous, like sliced on pizzas or chopped into scrambled eggs.
Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds that farmers have harvested and passed down from season to season. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors — all of which are beloved for their intense flavor.
You’ll find that yellow heirloom tomatoes are the sweetest. The red-yellow variety have a nice balance of tangy and sweet. And the purple-black or dark red and green ones tend to have a rich flavor that’s deeply sweet yet full of nice acid.
With so much flavor, heirloom tomatoes are best eaten with a little salt and pepper and a few leaves of basil. That said, they make a fantastic caprese or panzanella salad — and we do love to put a big slab of heirloom tomato on our avocado toast.