Sara’s Kitchen Revelations – Tomatoes Need Salt

There is absolutely nothing better in the summer than a ripe tomato. We have a garden in the back field of my parents old farmhouse and some years I can’t keep up with the crop:

Bumper crop of tomatoes from my parents farmhouse

Even though this kind of harvest makes me feel slightly like Lucy trying to wrap all the candies on the conveyor belt I never get tired of eating dead ripe summer tomatoes.

But before I eat them straight up or use them in almost any recipe, I salt them first. I discovered this little trick years ago when I worked in the test kitchen at Gourmet Magazine. I had developed a recipe for a tomato basil and mozzarella tart with a bacon crust and when I baked it the filling came out watery. I wondered why and then I realized it was because the tomatoes gave off tons of liquid as they baked. I thought, hmmm, what would make them less watery and I realized that if I salted and drained them, that would pull a bunch of liquid out.

It worked. Not only did the tart lose all that extra water but also that pre salting intensified the flavor of the tomatoes. Now I salt and drain my tomatoes first for most of my recipes, whether I am cooking them or not.

Try my Fried Catfish BLT recipe and see what a difference the salt makes.

“Fried” Catfish BLT, photo by Jessica Leibowitz



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6 Responses to Sara’s Kitchen Revelations – Tomatoes Need Salt

  1. Bob Packer says:

    My tomato season is just coming into full swing here in NE Oklahoma. Eating them fresh out of the garden left and right and will probably start canning on Monday.

    Keep up the good work!

    memeber of tomatomania yahoo group.

  2. Laura Taylor says:

    That’s an interesting tip…one that makes perfect sense! I look forward to reading and trying some of your favorite tomato recipes as the season progresses. Your tart with the bacon crust sounds like an amazing place to start!
    Thanks so much,
    Laura…also a member of the Tomatomania Yahoo group

  3. John C. Campbell III says:

    If I’m lucky enough to have 5 to 10 lbs of a variety at a time I cut them in half (top to bottom so they hold together) put them on a stainless steel quarter sheet pan, salt and pepper them (modestly) and put them under the broiler long enough to get some Mailliard reaction happening on the cut surfaces
    the by product of this is the oft-mentioned tomato water which I pour off and reserve till I’ve done all of the trays of halved tomatoes I’m processing at the time. I then take the slightly roasted halves and run them through the Vittorio press. reserving what would be normally ‘waste’ … the skins and add them to the collected reserved tomato water which I reduce at low heat to roughly a third the volume. and I mean LOW heat. In the process of the reduction I’ve been known to add a very small percentage of wine to the batch reduction in process. I also add some fresh spices, (whole allspice, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, and a VERY small amount of rosemary, to the reduction.
    There is a great amount of flavour right up against the skin and around the seeds. There are also flavinoids in the tomato that are only released by alcohol. In the end I strain out the remaining seeds and skins, ‘used’ spices, etc. out of the reduced tomato ‘water’ and add it to the strained result out of the Vittoria press.
    Once it’s cold I put it all into quart ziplocks© in two person servings each and then stack them in the freezer to get ‘flat’ as Roger mentioned. If I need more than enough for Mary and I? I can always defrost two bags or more. The end product is not specific to any cultural cuisine. That is to say I can add cumin and other things to use in a Spanish or Mexican dish, or other fresh herbs to the defrosted mixture for Italian concoctions.

  4. Lois says:

    Are you referring to the slices? or the whole tomato? Wouldn’t squeezing out the seeds and juices do the same?

  5. Laura Hopkins says:

    Loved the Cuban food show.

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