Lifestyle Guide: Growing and Cooking with Cherry Tomatoes

By Charisse Miller

One of the most versatile ingredients out there is the tomato. This food takes on various forms. You see the amazing tomato plant as a seasoned and tasty sauce, little red “gems” on a salad or a condiment in the form of ketchup.

A delicious variety of this plant is the cherry tomato. This delightfully sweet tomato variant grows quickly, ripens early and is great for the body.

South America was the first continent to cultivate cherry tomatoes. These juicy fruits eventually made their way to Israeli and European gardens. Then, Marks & Spencer, a famous British grocery chain, commercialized these petite plants during the 20th century to attract customers. Today, cherry tomatoes are both a dish ingredient and a tasty snack.

Why Grow and Eat Cherry Tomatoes

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Cherry tomatoes are rich in minerals and vitamins that help keep your body healthy. These small red plants are high in lycopene, an antioxidant plant nutrient that fights off disease-causing free radicals and promotes better heart health.

On top of lycopene, cherry tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C. This nutrient is necessary for the repair, development and growth of body tissues. It also maintains and fortifies immune function. You’ll also find other nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin E and potassium.

Which Cherry Tomato Variant Should You Plant?

You could grow a wide variety of cherry tomatoes in your garden or backyard. A few variants you could consider are the following:

Bing Cherry

This well-known and favorite cherry tomato variety grows best in dry environments, making them highly tolerant to drought. Bing cherry tomatoes are also suitable for hot urban gardens.

If you’re just starting with gardening, make Bing Cherry your first option. This variant can thrive in multiple soil conditions and various climates.  As for taste, you’ll love the Bing Cherry’s sweet and juicy nature.

Juliet

Move over, Romeo, as Juliet takes center stage. This tomato variant stands on the borderline between grape and cherry tomatoes. The Juliet variety is an oval-shaped fruit that’s perfect for cooking.

What sets this variant apart is its high sugar content. If you want a cherry tomato that’s sweet and packed with flavor, the Juliet variant is for you.

Gold Nugget

Not all cherry tomatoes are red. The Gold Nugget features a bright yellow or yellow orange color that will surely brighten up salads and other dishes.

What makes this variety stand out is its durability. They’re highly resistant to cracking despite having thin skin. Also, Gold Nuggets are incredibly flavorful. They’re perfect for garnishes and salads.

Sweetheart

These little red cuties will surely win your heart. This cherry tomato has a dented top below the leaf crown along with a pointed bottom tip, giving this variant a heart shape. The sweet variety is low in acidity, making it suitable for individuals with digestion-related health conditions, such as heartburn.

Peacevine

Keep calm and eat this variety of cherry tomato. Apart from this variant’s delicious flavor, Peacevines contain gamma-aminobutyric amino acid, a compound that offers a surprisingly calming effect. The next time you’re feeling stressed, grab a few Peacevines, use them for cooking and enjoy eating these fruits.

How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes

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Love the thought of growing cherry tomatoes but not sure where to begin? Grab the tomato seedlings of your choice, a few pots, a tomato cage and organic soil.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you grow cherry tomatoes from your backyard:

Choose a Sunny Area in Your Yard

Cherry tomatoes need lots of sunlight to grow and bear fruit. They also require heat from the sun, as they could wilt and die when exposed to frost. When surveying your garden, pick an area that gets at least eight hours of sun each day.

Drill Holes in Your Pot

When planting cherry tomatoes in a pot, drill holes that are around a quarter to a half-inch thick. Create a few holes in the center and around the bottom edge of the container. This allows excess water to drain off the soil.

Place the Tomato Cage into the Container

A tomato cage, which you can find at your local home improvement store, is necessary to support the vines that grow from the pot. Insert the pointy end of the cage into the container.

Add Organic Soil to the Pot

Gently pour the organic or fertile soil into your container. Make sure that the surface of the soil looks consistent.

Dig a Tiny Hole into the Soil

Create a small hole that’s a few inches deep in the middle of the soil. This is where your tomato seedlings will go.

Cover the Hole

Use the soil you’ve taken out to bury the seeds and fill the hole completely. Again, keep the soil surface as even as possible.

Water Your Cherry Tomatoes Regularly

Watering is an important step to managing your plants. Do this every couple of days to keep the soil moist. If you notice that the soil looks dry, add more water. You want the soil to appear saturated (but not drowning) in water.

Fertilize Weekly

The fertilizer provides the nutrients necessary for the survival and growth of your cherry tomatoes. Add organic fertilizer into the first few inches of the soil using a plastic fork.

Prune When Necessary

Use a pair of scissors or small pruners to cut off the branches growing off the central stem. If the leaves look dead on a particular branch, snip that branch off, as well.

When to Harvest Cherry Tomatoes

These plants usually begin flowering approximately a month after you plant them. You’ll then see small green fruits afterward. These will turn into full-blown cherry tomatoes in a few weeks’ time.

You can consider a cherry tomato ripe when it comes off the stem easily. If the weather in your area becomes unreasonably cool, protect your plants by tucking an old sheet around them. This wards off frost and extends your harvest season.

Cherry Tomato Cooking Ideas

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Now that you’ve successfully harvested these petite red fruits, you can now use them for cooking. Here are a few cherry tomato recipe ideas that you can do in your kitchen:

Tomato Soup

Use fresh cherry tomatoes to make a delicious tomato soup that’s rich in antioxidants and low in calories. Whipping up this dish is simple. Puree fresh tomatoes, butter (to give the soup some richness), onion, chicken or vegetable stock, garlic and balsamic vinegar.

Caprese Salad

This simple Italian salad consists of alternating slices of mozzarella and tomatoes. Use ripe cherry tomatoes for this recipe. Then, slice fresh mozzarella cheese and arrange the ingredients neatly on the plate. Next, add basil leaves to the salad. Lastly, finish off the dish with a sprinkle of sea salt and premium quality extra virgin olive oil.

Penne Pasta

Enjoy this summer pasta dish by adding juicy tomatoes fresh from your garden. Cook penne pasta until it’s al dente. Then, toss in plump cherry tomatoes, freshly chopped asparagus, salty pancetta, olive oil and garlic. Serve this pasta hot for lunch or supper.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

One of the fresh ingredients that will enhance the flavor and color of this dish is cherry tomatoes. Preparing this dish is simple: toss cooked pasta with feta cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives and arugula. Finish off the salad with a lemon-garlic vinaigrette.

Egg-White Frittata

Give the frittata more color and flavor by adding cherry tomatoes into this dish. When cooking the egg whites on the pan, fold the petite tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, broccoli and spinach into the center. Then, serve the dish with a tasty classic hollandaise sauce.

Roasted Cod

You can use tomatoes and other ingredients to elevate this humble protein and transform it into a fish dish perfect for weeknight family dinners. Start by topping the firm cod fillet with fresh cherry tomatoes, creamy slices of mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Then, bake the ingredients in an oven for around 15 minutes. Serve this elegant and quick entrée with a bed of flavored cooked rice.

Let this guide inspire you to start planting cherry tomatoes in your backyard or garden. Whether you eat these fruits raw or cooked, you’ll surely enjoy its taste along with its many health benefits.

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