Tips For Buying Tomatoes

Yes, the best-tasting tomatoes come from your own garden. But if you lack the place or time to grow, follow these tips to get the tomatoes you spend most of the year dreaming about.

•Find a local grower, preferably a small-scale operation that cares about its products. Start your search at a specialty produce or farmers' market. These tomatoes will likely be grown in the ground (not hydroponically), in rich soil (not an inferior mix), and in the open sun (not a hothouse), and picked at the optimum time. They might also be organic and/or heirloom—a bonus.

•Look for good color and smell, taut skin, and flesh that has a little give.

•Don't refrigerate them: The cold breaks down the cell walls and makes the fruit mushy.

•Keep them out of direct sunlight and eat them within a few days.