The Extra Step To Guarantee A Mess-Free Tomato Sandwich

For gardeners and those who enjoy shopping at farmer's markets and roadside produce stands, there is nothing like a perfectly ripe summer tomato. They wait all summer for the multicolored orbs to ripen and then eat themselves silly on them, filling up since the seasonal treats won't be around again until next year. Of course, in America you can get your hands on tomatoes year-round, but not the fresh, local kind that foodies dream about. While there are countless recipes that incorporate fresh tomatoes, from galettes to pastas, the tomato enthusiast will tell you that one of the most perfect and satisfying ways to enjoy the summer treat is in a sandwich.

A tomato sandwich consists of two pieces of bread slathered in mayonnaise with slices of ripe tomatoes inside, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. That's it. If you think that doesn't sound very exciting, you've probably never had one. The flavor of those plump tomatoes combines with the creamy mayonnaise and chewy bread to create an unpretentious yet wonderful bite. 

As delicious as it is, a tomato sandwich can be, truthfully, a little messy. If your tomato is juicy (which it should be), much of it tends to escape out of the back of the bread with every bite. It's part of the fun of eating this tasty dish, but if you really don't want to tolerate the mess, there is one simple step you can take before you assemble your sandwich.

But first, salt

It's no secret that salt draws out liquid. You can see this in the example of cured meats that are heavily salted to release the moisture that bacteria thrive in — and sprinkling salt on watermelon slices will bring all of that sweet juice to the surface of the fruit. Similarly, salting tomato slices a few minutes before you put them on a sandwich will release much of the tomato's moisture, or the goo that will otherwise run down your fingers as you eat. In a nutshell, your delicious tomato sandwich will be slightly tidier to eat. And as a bonus, the salt will bring out the flavor in your tomato.

There's even more going on here, however. Salt naturally activates saliva production, which will spread more flavor around your mouth at a quicker pace. Also, salt counteracts with bitterness, essentially subduing any bitter flavors and bringing out any and all sweetness of the tomato. 

You can prepare your sandwich bread with the mayonnaise as normal, but place your tomato slices on a couple of paper towels first and sprinkle lightly with salt. As the moisture is drawn out, it will be absorbed by the paper towels. The longer you let it sit, the more water will be removed. Even five minutes of time will make a difference. When you can't stand to wait any longer, place your tomatoes on the bread and make a sandwich. You're now on your way to summer food heaven.