Pop, pop, pop. One after the other. 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, cherry tomatoes of different sorts are available—and wonderfully tasty—for a longer stretch of the season than larger tomatoes.
Why is that? It's quite simple: 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.
Just 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 & Store Cherry Tomatoes
Choose cherry tomatoes with firm, bright skins and a fresh, tomato-y scent. Seriously, like all tomatoes, cherry tomatoes should smell distinctly like you hope they'll taste.
Like all 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. I like to 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.
My hands-down favorite way to use them, though, is these burst tomatoes. They are 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.
Looking for something fun? Try these Toothpick Caprese Salads. They're tasty and cute to pass at a party, or make perfect finger food for a picnic.