Ask Chef Mary Fridays: What to do with overly ripe tomatoes?

I buy tomatoes in bulk and sometimes they begin to get mushy and crack.  Is there anything I can do to save them?

Dear Chef Mary,

 I loved last week’s tomato remnants article.  I started thinking about my tomatoes that I buy.  Typically, when I’m at the grocery store, I always buy thinking that I’m going to use whatever it is that I’m buying in the near future and a lot of the times I never do.  I buy tomatoes in bulk and sometimes they begin to get mushy and crack.  Is there anything I can do to save them?  I’ve heard sticking them in the refrigerator zaps the flavor.

Help!

Reistle

Dear Reistle,

Overly ripe tomatoes can make you absolutely crazy.  For instance, the other day I bought heirloom tomatoes (my favorite) and placed them in my pantry.  It was really warm in my house that day and in less than 24 hours my beautiful fresh heirloom tomatoes were overripe, cracking and juicing. 

While I was at The Food and Wine Classic, I had an amazing opportunity to sit in on a cooking demonstration with “Top Chefs” season five favorite Chef Fabio Viviani.  He made this mouth-watering filet with a beautiful medley of fresh tomatoes, feta and avocado. 

As he cooked this delicious filet, he gave us helpful cooking nuggets (tips of information) to take with us into our own world of cooking. One very useful piece of information will solve your tomato problem. 

Take your overripe and cracked tomatoes and soak them in salted water overnight and the cracks will seal and the tomato will become firm again.  You will need to use the tomato within the next couple of days, but at least it saves you from having to throw it away.

To answer your next question, tomatoes can be refrigerated after you cut them. However, they’re best if you cut and eat them right away.  The exception to this rule is a party. 

Prepare for your parties as best as you can ahead of time.  In this case, slice the tomatoes an hour ahead of time, then line them on parchment paper, cover them with plastic and place them in the refrigerator.  Remove them from the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes before you serve them to bring them up to room temperature.

By planning ahead, you can spend more time with your guests and less time slicing tomatoes.

After the party, use the leftover tomatoes for sauces, salsas or even soups the next day. 

Reistle, remember to save your tomatoes by soaking them in salted water over night, slice them right before you eat them and, of course, save the scraps for soups, salsas or sauces.  Good luck and thanks for the great question.

Happy Friday!

Chef Mary

For more great cooking tips, recipes and stories from Chef Mary, visit her blog. To learn more about Chef Mary, check out her Hail Mary’s Inc. Web site. E-mail questions for Ask Chef Mary Fridays to mary@hailmarysinc.com or click the Ask Chef Mary link above. 

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The information provided is general information about healthy eating. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice or treatment that may have been prescribed by your physician or other health care provider. Always consult a physician before starting any new diet or regimen. 

Go to- www.cookingwithmary.blogspot.com
or email me at mary@hailmarysinc.com

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Mary Moran

Upon graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in 2002, Chef Mary Payne Moran began her professional career shelling crabs at the world-renowned restaurant, Michael's in Santa Monica.  Simultaneously, she launched her own company, Hail Mary’s, founded upon the belief that good food nurtures the soul, and began catering weddings, parties and large corporate events.

In the fall of 2008, Mary began teaching her culinary skills to others.    Currently she can be found at Hollywood School House teaching her after school cooking class, and teaching her popular "Vegetables or Not Here I Come" assembly.

Most recently, Mary has launched another division in her company as well as a chef she is now also a Certified Nutritionist for high profile clients.  She helps her clients discover their healthy way of eating.  Mary has recently been published in the Los Angeles Magazine, & The New Jersey Star Ledger.

Daily she addresses cooking aficionados through her blog - Cooking with Chef Mary as well as her how-to webisodes on You Tube.

Contact Mary Moran

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