Cherry tomatoes, and other tiny varieties like grape tomatoes, are the perfect summer snack, whether you're plucking them off the vine in the garden or out of a carton on the ride home from the market.
Perhaps best of all for local eaters, tasty cherry tomatoes of different sorts are available for a longer stretch of the season than larger tomatoes. Their flavor isn't as diluted by hothouse conditions as their larger kin. So those grown with a little help from the heat generated by greenhouses are still quite good.
What Are Cherry Tomatoes
The title "cherry tomato" is generally conferred on any very small tomato, usually smaller than an inch across. Within the family of "cherry tomatoes," you will find pear tomatoes (small and pear-shaped), grape tomatoes (oval-shaped and 1/2-inch across or smaller), and the super tiny currant tomatoes no bigger than a pinkie nail.
Look for Sweet 100s and Sungolds at markets, as well as heirloom and hybrid varieties like Honeybunch, Sweet Olives, and Tiny Tims at markets for great, sweet, and bright tomato flavor in tiny packages.
How to Choose and Store Cherry Tomatoes
Choose cherry tomatoes with a firm, bright skin, and a fresh, tomato scent. Like all tomatoes, cherry tomatoes should smell distinct like you hope they'll taste.
Same as bigger tomatoes, cherry tomatoes dislike a chill. Keep cherry tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavor and to avoid the mealy texture that can result from putting them in the refrigerator. You can keep them in a bowl on the counter for super easy, healthful snacking.
Tasty Ways to Use Cherry Tomatoes
Small tomatoes are great to toss in salads or with pasta for a fresh, summer flavor. They are also lovely when halved and mixed with red peppers, green onion, and/or corn kernels for a relish or salsa to dollop on grilled steaks, chicken, or salmon.
A burst tomatoes recipe is beyond simple; just heat up some oil in a pan, add the cherry tomatoes, and cook them, shaking the pan now and again, until the skin on the tomatoes starts to "burst" open. Salt to taste and serve warm or at room temperature. Cherry tomatoes are not the best option for a tomato sauce or soup. They are just so small and have a higher skin to flesh ratio.
If you are looking for something fun that requires little effort, try mozzarella stuffed cherry tomatoes or use toothpicks or small skewers to stack tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil or olives. Either idea is tasty and cute to pass around at a party or make perfect finger food for a picnic.
If you find yourself needing to cut a large number of cherry tomatoes, try this hack: Gather two round tops of quart takeout containers. Put the tomatoes in between the tops. Place one hand on top of the container sandwiching the tomatoes and use the other to run a knife in between the tops, cutting the tomatoes. Try it once and you'll see how well it works!