NEVER refrigerate a tomato, the cold breaks down the cell walls and causes tomatoes to go mushy. The best way to store a tomato is on your counter, on top of a cooling rack, so it has air flow. If you want a tomato to ripen more quickly, put it in a brown paper bag. As they ripen, tomatoes naturally release ethylene gas into the bag which hurries the ripening process along. This also means that if you want your tomatoes to keep longer/ripen less quickly, taking them out of the bag will allow them to ripen more slowly.
-Our farmers harvest their tomatoes at all levels of ripeness. That means some of the tomatoes you get will be perfectly ripe and ready to eat while others will need a few days to ripen.
How do you know when a tomato is ripe? It can be tricky these days, with so many different colored tomatoes on the market. Not all ripe tomatoes are a deep rich red. Some are yellow, some are orange, some are striped, and some are even green when ripe! So I usually use my sense of smell and touch to detect ripeness. A ripe tomato of any color should have a fruity, tomatoey smell and should be tender to the touch. If it doesn’t have a fragrance and is too firm, then let it sit out for a day or two or three until it smells good enough to eat.
PANZANELLA (BREAD AND TOMATO SALAD)
In her book Lidia’s Italian Table (William Morrow, 1998), Lidia Bastianich recommends making this rustic Italian salad with toasted country bread and ripe tomatoes.