The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat tomatoes. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest.

What tomatoes etiquette is

Tomato etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat tomatoes. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow tomatoes’ etiquette to serve them to your guests appropriately.

If you are a guest, respect tomatoes’ etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy them.

how to serve and eat tomatoes - the proper etiquette rules

What you should know about tomatoes

Tomatoes are a fruit. They are typically round or oblong in shape. Their color can vary from bright red to orange, yellow, and green. They have a slightly sweet flavor with acidic notes and a juicy texture.

Etiquette tips to serve and eat tomatoes

1) How to store tomatoes

The ideal temperature for storing tomatoes is around 12°C (55°F).

You can store whole fresh tomatoes in the pantry at room temperature. Keep them in a cool and dry place, away from sources of heat and direct sunlight. When you store tomatoes at room temperature, it is best to eat them within a week.

In the fridge, whole tomatoes can last for up to 2 weeks.

You can store tomatoes in the freezer for later use, either whole or chopped. They can last between 3 and 6 months.

Store sliced or cooked tomatoes in the fridge. Keep them in a sealed container or in a bowl wrapped in plastic. When properly stored, they can last for up to 5 days.

2) How to clean tomatoes

To clean tomatoes, rinse them under cool running water. Make sure to remove any dirt. Then, pat them dry with a kitchen cloth or paper towel.

You can tell when tomatoes have gone bad if they have a soft or mushy texture, mold, or a foul odor.

3) How to prepare tomatoes

There are several popular ways to prepare tomatoes. The most common ways to cook tomatoes include roasting, grilling, or sautéing. Tomatoes are popular for making sauces and soups. They are a common ingredient in salads and sandwiches.

Popular dishes with tomatoes include salsa, pasta and pizza sauces, Caprese salad, and gazpacho.

4) How to serve & present tomatoes

Tomatoes are appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can serve them at any time of day. However, they are more common at lunch and dinner, while they are rather uncommon at breakfast.

The most polite way to serve tomatoes to your guests is to wash and cut them into bite-sized pieces or slices. Present them on a platter or in a bowl, with a serving spoon and fork.

The ideal serving temperature for tomatoes is room temperature.

You can accompany tomatoes with bread or focaccia. It is polite to serve them with seasoning such as olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and oregano.

5) Foods and beverages to serve tomatoes with

Pair tomatoes with flavors such as garlic, basil, oregano, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

They go well with vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, and olives. They pair well with fresh cheese, such as Mozzarella and Feta. Avoid pairing tomatoes with seasoned cheese.

You can serve tomatoes with a variety of meats and fish, including chicken, pork, beef, and tuna. They go well with eggs too.

Pair tomatoes with beer or a light wine. Light red wines such as Pinot Noir. Light white wines such as an unoaked Chardonnay.

6) How to eat tomatoes

At the dining table, you should eat tomatoes with a fork and knife. Cut them into bite-sized pieces. You should eat the whole tomato. The peel is edible and should not be discarded.

Avoid eating tomatoes with your fingers. Cherry tomatoes are the exception.

Tomatoes etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Find more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst tomato etiquette mistakes.

  • 8/10. Serving unwashed tomatoes.
  • 8/10. Serving unripe or overripe tomatoes.
  • 7/10. Not removing the stem or any bruised or damaged areas

Additional information for properly serving tomatoes

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Tomatoes contain about 18 calories per 100 grams.

How to buy the best tomatoes

A crucial factor in tomato etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Season and availability 

Imported tomatoes are available all year round.

The best time to buy tomatoes is during their peak season in the summer months. In the northern hemisphere, the season usually runs from late June to early September.

Choose the best

Tomatoes in commerce can be fresh, canned, or dried. They are also common as a paste or sauce.

The most popular varieties of tomatoes include Heirloom, Roma, Beefsteak, and Cherry Tomatoes. Heirloom varieties are perhaps the most prized because of their flavor and distinctive shape.

Look for tomatoes that are firm and smooth. Ripe tomatoes have a bright and vibrant color and a slightly sweet smell. Avoid tomatoes with soft spots or bruises.

Alternatives to tomatoes

Common food alternatives to tomatoes include bell peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini.