A perfect slice of tomato should be deep red, firm and juicy. Unfortunately, it’s far too common to slice into a terrible slice of tomato, which is watery, slimy and filled with seeds.
But did you know there’s a simple trick that can turn a sub-par tomato into a much better one? And the key is already in your pantry.
Whether you’re slicing up tomatoes for burgers, a Caprese salad or tomato sandwiches, give yourself about 10-15 minutes before mealtime to prep your tomatoes by lightly salting them. The salt does much more than make them taste better ― it’s more scientific than that. Rather, the salt actually draws out the unwanted liquid and creates a denser slice.
As J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats has explained, “salting draws liquid out of tomatoes through the process of osmosis — that is, the tendency of a liquid (tomato juice) to migrate across a membrane (the tomato’s cell walls) from an area of low solute concentration (within the cells) to an area of high solute concentration (outside of the cells).” And when you remove excess water from the tomato, it concentrates its flavor, making it taste more tomatoey.
Here’s how to do it:
Slice your tomatoes with a serrated knife.
Lay them flat on paper towels, or on a metal cooling rack over a baking tray (the latter is the more environmentally friendly option, and will also catch all the tomato juices if you want to reuse them later).
Lightly sprinkle the top of each slice with a pinch of salt. We recommend Kosher salt ― it’s easier to pinch with your fingers than super-fine table salt, and it’s finer than course sea salt, which can add an unwanted crunch.
Allow the tomatoes to rest for about 7-8 minutes. You should see beads of liquid rise to the surface, at which point you can dab the tops with a paper towel. (This is also a good chance to remove excess salt, especially if you’re watching your sodium levels.)
Flip the tomato slices and repeat the whole process on the opposite side, dabbing again after another 7-8 minutes.
Serrated Knives For Slicing Tomatoes
If you’ve cut your tomatoes into wedges for a salad (as opposed to round slices), you can try an alternate method: Toss your wedges in a colander, lightly salt them, let them sit for 15-20 minutes and give them a shake to drain their excess liquid.
Now that you’ve got perfect summer-ripe tomatoes, here are some delicious ways to use them.