Tomatoes are known for being a summertime type of produce—and they are! But that doesn’t mean you can’t find tomatoes during the winter months. Our Winter Tomato Guide is going to take you through just how to do it. Imagine if you had to go most of the year without that delicious acid tomatoes add to any dish. MISERY. We needed a touch of acid for our Roasted Tomato Turkey Burgers recently, not to mention there’s one very key ingredient in Ryan’s Really Good Roasted Tomatoes themselves …you guessed it. Tomatoes.
Through our Roasted Tomato Turkey Burgers, we introduced you to Ryan’s Roasted Tomatoes and taught you How to Quick Caramelize Onions, but we couldn’t go without giving you a Winter Tomato Guide to ease up the selection process. We want you buying the best tomatoes possible, even when the sun ain’t shining.
winter tomatoes: types & ripeness
Since winter isn’t peak season for tomatoes, you’re not going to be faced with endless varieties right now. The two types of winter tomatoes you’re pretty much guaranteed to find at the grocery store are Roma and Vine Ripe. The two can be used interchangeably in recipes this time of year, but more on that below.
When judging the ripeness of winter tomatoes, you want to focus on two things: firmness and color. More softness and a deeper red color are both indications that your winter tomatoes are on the right side of ripe.
how to use winter tomatoes
Most winter tomatoes are either grown in greenhouses or close to the equator in order to get the warmth necessary for tomato growth. With tomatoes grown in summer sunshine, you’ll find all kinds of options that vary widely in flavor. With tomatoes grown during winter, like Roma and Vine Ripe, you won’t find quite as much depth or variety of flavor. That means you can use them interchangeably in recipes. No matter which you choose, we recommend cooking them down to optimize their flavor profile rather than chopping them up for a salad.
No need to fret because there are lots of ways to bring out more richness in your tomatoes during winter. Cooking them down into sauces or making chutneys out of them are awesome choices. You can cook them to pair with eggs or pasta in order to add some richness as well. Sprinkle some spices on ’em as well to enhance the flavor your winter tomatoes do have to offer.
Our possible favorite way to cook winter tomatoes? ROASTING. Ryan’s Really Good Roasted Tomatoes maximize the flavor of winter tomatoes and can be used to accompany all kinds of dishes.
grocery woes no more
The beauty of being able to use Roma and Vine Ripe tomatoes interchangeably in recipes during winter is that you can just see which one is riper when you get to the store and go with that!
Remember your two keys to tomato ripeness: color and firmness.
On our trip to the grocery store, the Roma and Vine Ripe tomatoes were both a fairly rich red color. The Vine Ripe were maybe a teeny bit darker red? But nothing too notable so we moved on to firmness.
We found that the Roma tomatoes were a bit firmer than the Vine Ripe, especially when we compared them side by side. Don’t be afraid to throw a tomato in each hand when it’s a close call! Vine Ripe boasted a touch more softness, so that was our winter tomato take-home for today.
Whether you’re making Ryan’s Roasted Tomatoes for our Roasted Tomato Turkey Burgers, whipping up some pasta sauce, or cooking down tomatoes for a cozy winter soup, we hope our Winter Tomato Guide was helpful!