How to Cut a Tomato

Before you can think about cutting your tomatoes, you are going to want to think about your knife. And It know it seems obvious, but a sharp one is best. What happens when you have a dull knife, is you don’t get a clean cut and the seeds start flying out and the juices flow away. You want to keep the tomatoey part of the tomato right there in your slice. So, make sure you have a sharp knife. Unforuntately, knives aren’t my expertise, but you may want to check out a site like this one:  http://www.kitchenknife.com/kitchenknives/ and their blog on knives to get a few ideas.

When you’ve got a good sharp knife and you’re ready to cut, the first thing I would do is remove the core. You usually want a different kind of knife for this, a pairing knife, and luckily they come with most home knife sets. Youll place  the edge of the pairing knife right around the edge of the core and cut around in a circle. You don’t have to remove the core, but it’s not the finest part for good eats. It’s hard and rough and isn’t going to make a slice for you. Also, you may have a little bit of stem or root remaining on it. It should also give your tomato a better chance of laying flat, which is gonna help you slice through evenly.

Once the core is gone, you;re almost ready to go. Grab your sharp knife andcut the tomato in half so that you can have the flat sides laying flat on the table. Here is where you have a choice. You are about to begin slicing, but you’ll want to decide how thick your slices should be. Well that just depends on if it’s a salad, a sandwich, sauce and what kind of all three. So think about the recipe when you’re getting ready to slice.

You’ll have a sharp knife, and you’ll want to strike it through the tomato, with the tip of the blade laying directly on the cutting board. The knife should be sharp enough that you’ll only need to slide through gently to make a slice. Once you have one, repeat this a few centimeters past, by putting the tip of the blade over the tomato and onto the board and gliding it back. Repeat this until you have as many perfectly sized slices as you need. This image is a bunch of cherry tomatoes, but notice the one that is sliced. You’ll want that sliced flat surface to be able to lay it on the table and slice through with your knife. The same thing that applies with this small cherry, applies with any larger tomato, like a beef steak.

Cherry tomatoes with one sliced

Cherry tomatoes with one sliced in half

Of course, you can eat tomatoes a number of ways, not just in the recipes and how you prepare and cook them, but in how you cut them. Often times you’ll see big salads with tomatoes cut into fourths, but I find these hard to eat. Here you would just take out the core and cut the tomato in half once, and the other half once. You’ll often find them these ways in Greek Salads.

We’ve covered regular slices and we’ve covered wedges, the next thing we need to cover is cubes, or dicing a tomato. When you dice a tomato, one of the finer points to remember is to not cut all the way through. If you start cubing it into squares and cut through your’re gonna have a lot of mush.  A lot of juice to flow out. You’ll first want to to start by turning the tomato on it’s side and cutting through almost to the bottom, but not all the way. You’ll continue to make slices like this every few centimeters till you’ve reached the end. Remember, the size of the cubes is up to you, and also, remember that the knife should be as sharp as possible. Once you’ve made your slices, you’ll want to turn your tomato and do the same thing on the other side. Now it will start to resemble one of those “blooming onions” you see at Outback Steakhouse, and really, that’s how they make them. There’s one last step though and that’s turning the tomato over and slicing through a third time. This is how the squares form and from there, you have a diced tomatoes.

There’s so many ways to cut a tomato and well, I just don’t think I can stop.  I like the diced approached for salsa, but you may want to try going even smaller. To do this, just make the centimeter gaps between your slices even thinner. It just depends how chunky your salsa is meant to be, but the diced approach is usually the traditional way to go. If you want a really emulsified salsa, you can totally blend the tomato in with cilantro, onions and other spices, and that makes a great way for cutting (or smushing) a tomato for a tasty salsa. Usually on tacos I like the more emulsified salsa because it spreads over nicely, but for a choppier texture and a little crunch to your taco or burrito, you can go with the diced approach.

When you cut for a sandwich, there’s only one way to go, and that’s original way we discussed in the beginning. Cutting a tomato for a sandwich, you’ll want to think about the thickness and how much of the flavor profile the tomato is going to have in your treat. A good crisp, thickly cut tomato can give a fine texture. Diced or cubed may work on a sandwich and I’ve seen this done on a Mexican tostada, but for a traditional American eat, it’s nothing but slices. Wedges usually slip right out and become a bigger bite than the rest of the ingredients you’re stuffing in there.

There are some great videos on YouTube regarding tomato slicing, so I’d always recommend checking them out. A description is great, but it will really help to get a visual.

Happy slicing!

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