5 Ways To Boost The Flavor Of Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the backbone of plenty of delicious dishes; they add acidity, color, and flavor in many ways, whether as the feature of a tomato salad or the base of a delicious marinara or vodka sauce. Different recipes call for different types of tomato, but in all cases there are ways you can enhance this ingredient to shine brighter in any recipe. Seasoning them with salt, balancing their acidity with a little sugar, and bringing out their texture and natural sugars with caramelization are just a few ways to build on basic tomatoes.


Often, ingredients need a little balance. Some varieties of tomato, such as Brandywine or Stupice, have more acid than other types and, therefore, need a sweeter element added to make them work; a naturally low-acid variety like Sungolds or Sakuras won't necessarily need this. When getting the most out of your tomatoes, it's important to understand their profile to know how they will best shine. Follow our three best tips for balancing tomato flavors and our two favorite tips for enhancing flavors, and you'll have perfect tomatoes in no time.

Use balance to boost the flavor of your tomatoes

Tomatoes, like many produce types, contain lots of water. But when that water is removed, their taste remains, meaning a more concentrated flavor. The first way to enhance those tomatoes is to counteract the water by slicing them and adding a pinch of salt to each slice. This will draw out the moisture in only a few minutes. You're left with a deeper, more noticeable flavor because it's not diluted by all that water.


Secondly, if you're dealing with high-acid, sour tomatoes, you'll need a little sugar to offset the acidity. When making a basic tomato sauce, add a pinch of sugar, then taste it; start with a little, and add more as needed so the sauce doesn't become too sweet. When you strike it just right, those tomatoes will burst with equal parts acidity and sweetness, giving them a deliciously well-rounded profile.

For the third tip regarding balance, if your tomatoes are still too tart even with sugar, another trick is to add a pinch of baking soda. Baking soda cuts right through the acidity by raising the tomatoes' pH level, working with the sugar to tame those sour flavors and create harmony.

Play into the tomato's natural flavors and textures

You don't always need to add extra ingredients to bring out tomatoes' flavor. Rather, try tip number four: Roast them in the oven. Tomatoes contain natural sugars (although far less than other fruits and veg), which can be used to your advantage during the cooking process. Roasting the tomatoes does three things: It adds texture to the dish because the skin gets slightly crispy; evaporates moisture to give the tomatoes a more concentrated flavor; and allows the natural sugars to caramelize, sweetening the tomatoes just a bit. You can add a little sugar to increase the development of sweet flavors, especially if using high-acid tomatoes, but it's not always necessary.


For the fifth and final tip, use tomatoes' acidity to your advantage by pairing them with sweet ingredients; tomatoes can create a wonderful flavor contrast when paired with a balsamic glaze or even a sweeter fruit, such as melon. This gives importance to that high-acid flavor and makes a tasty dish without altering the tomatoes at all.