Small, sweet and succulent, the cherry tomato has been one of the most popular breeds of tomato for a very long time. It is believed that modern cherry tomatoes are the most similar to the first domesticated tomato, cultivated by the ancient people of Central and South America. Modern cherry tomatoes have been cultivated for at least three centuries now, and several varieties have developed. All cherry tomato varieties are small, globe-shaped, and sweet, but their flavors can vary from fruity to a more savory flavor, very similar to larger round tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are spherical and small, about the size of an actual cherry, and they are typically sweeter than large round tomatoes. When ripe, they are usually red in color, but some varieties may be yellow, or have streaks of green running through them. Cherry tomatoes are generally sold in one pint plastic clamshell packages, but can also be found in bulk boxes.
Because of their small size, sweet flavor, and appealing texture, cherry tomatoes are often used raw. Halved or whole cherry tomatoes are a common topping for tossed salads. They can be served alongside other vegetables with dip as an appetizer. Cherry tomatoes can be used to create an uncooked pasta sauce, great for hot summer days. Simply quarter cherry tomatoes, and add to cooked pasta. Toss to allow the juicy cherry tomatoes to coat the pasta, and add some salt, pepper and fresh basil. Cherry tomatoes and goat cheese is a classic combination, where the sweetness and slight acidity of the tomato helps to cut the saltiness and heaviness of goat cheese. Stuffed cherry tomatoes are an easy, fresh appetizer that can be made by carefully hollowing out cherry tomatoes, and filling with them with soft goat cheese. Top with fresh chives or basil, and voila, a simple, easy, tasty finger food. Roasting cherry tomatoes is a great way to create a tasty side dish. Simply coat tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the tomatoes begin to deflate and burst. Cherry tomatoes are often used interchangeably with grape tomatoes, they are similar in size and relatively close in flavor. When using cherry tomatoes instead of grapes, keep in mind that cherries are somewhat less sweet, so that may change the outcome of a recipe.
When selecting cherry tomatoes, look for product that feel smooth and firm, and has pink or red color. The less red the tomato, the less ripe it will be, so make sure to plan ahead. If you plan to use tomatoes on the same day as purchasing them, make sure to find the reddest ones. Some cherries may not be red even when fully ripe, especially if they are an heirloom variety, so rely on how the tomato feels. The softer the tomato, the more ripe it is. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, and will last nearly a week. It is recommended that tomatoes should not be refrigerated. Storing tomatoes at temperatures lower than fifty degrees causes the sugars in the tomato to break down, and the tomato will become starchy and coarse in texture. There is some controversy in the culinary world over this point, but studies have shown that cold temperature cause tomatoes’ flavor and texture to degrade.