Match 'Mater

The ultimate guide to choosing the right type of tomato

Tomato season is without question the most wonderful time of year. So many tomatoes, so little time.

But between the beefsteaks and the plums, the cherry and the grape tomatoes, and those beautiful heirlooms, it can be difficult to choose the right kind of tomato to use for a recipe. If you're not always sure which one to go with, here's a rundown of some common varieties and the best way to put 'em to work.

Beefsteaks
What they are: Big and juicy, these tomatoes can get pretty hefty at their peak.

What they're good for: Slicing for salads, sandwiches or burgers.

Recipe: Beefsteak Tomato Sandwich

Plum or Romas
What they are: Shaped more like cylinders, plum and roma tomatoes are best for processing and canning. They typically have fewer seeds and are generally a better choice in the off-season. Romas are a type of plum tomato.

What they're good for: Pasta sauces and salsas.

Recipes: Charred Tomato Salsa, Shakshuka

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Heirlooms
What they are: Non-hybrid tomatoes that come from seeds dating back at least 50 years. There are many kinds of heirlooms, but they are all "openly pollinated," or, in other words, never genetically modified.

What they're good for: Eating with a little salt and nothing else. Maybe some basil, or cooked onto a pie if you're feeling decadent.

Recipe: Tomato Pie

 

Cherry
What they are: Sweet, round bite-size tomatoes that got their name because they're about the same size and shape as cherries.

What they're good for: Roasting or using on salads or skewers.

Recipes: Charred Tomato Oil, Grilled Tomato and Halloumi Skewers

 

Grape
What they are: Slightly smaller and sturdier than cherry tomatoes, these oblong-shaped tomatoes don't have as many seeds and aren't as juicy as their slightly bigger brothers. They're usually a good bet in the off-season and tend to last longer than cherry tomatoes, too.

What they're good for: Salads and pickling.

Recipe: Open-Faced Crab Sandwich with Pickled Tomatoes