Tomatoes are native to the South American continent, and were originally cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D.. There are hundreds of varieties of tomato, including slicer, paste, cherry, and heirloom. Due to the extreme popularity of tomatoes, growers have taken to picking them while still green and ripening the fruit using ethylene gas. Anyone who has had a farm fresh, vine ripened tomato will tell you, the difference in taste is amazing!
DO NOT refrigerate tomatoes. Doing so will cause them to become mealy and flavorless. Store ripe tomatoes away from direct sunlight- they should be used quickly but will last up to a week. Tomatoes can also be canned or frozen.
The ways to prepare tomatoes are nearly endless. They can be blended into pizza or pasta sauce, used in soups and stews, eaten raw on sandwiches, salads, and in fresh salsas. Paste tomatoes are best for sauces, while slicers and heirlooms are great on sandwiches. Cherry tomatoes are awesome in salads or served with fresh mozzarella and olive oil- if you can make it home without eating the whole bag first!