The base mixture is made primarily out of synthetic gelatin.
It must rest in a traditional heirloom mold within in a specialized proofer
very similar to an electric wine cellar.
It must rest there for at least 24 hours at a controlled temperature
between forty-eight and fifty-five degrees F.
The mold will set at lower temperatures,
but everyone knows you never refrigerate a fresh tomato.
There is a lot of debate about texture:
trace amounts of pumice, ground carbon material, powdered fiber, etc.
It makes up about one percent of the total base,
but that one percent makes all the difference.
It's the difference between having a ball of snotty gelatin,
or an exquisitely firm and juicy dome,
the way any good tomato should be.
What do I add? It's a family secret.
When pulled from the proofer the tomato is milky gray.
It is a large, soft, semi-translucent and irregularly shaped pearl.
After this , it comes down to two crucial injections:
One for flavor and one for pigment.
Always add the flavor first, because when it comes down to it,
flavor is more important.
It is important to know your proportions,
unless you want a tomato with insides like chopped liver,
or more appropriately, chopped liver product.
The amount depends upon your own tastes.
My tastes in fractions are broadly:
one half sweet, one fourth acidic, one eighth savory,
one sixteenth salty, and one sixteenth astringent.
A perfectly juicy and flavorful tomato
Pigment is slightly less important, but only slightly.
I prefer a bold, but natural pigment:
one half candy apple red, one eighth canary yellow,
one eighth vermillion, one sixteenth royal purple,
and one sixteenth moss green.
A beautiful, bright, natural looking globe.
The last step in making a raw tomato is the skin.
Many people will leave the skin out
because they don't think it is necessary to the eating experience.
But I prefer a true and full tomato, skin and all.
The skin is a small sheet of semi translucent cellulose.
When it is new it shines like a plate of glass,
but crackles like a sheet of cellophane.
Gently, yet firmly wrap the sheet around
the flavored and colored globe
and twist the sheet together as if you were wrapping candy.
Using a small blow torch heat all ends of the tomato
until the creases in the cellulose even out
and the sheet adheres to the gelatin globe.
The heat will also make the sheet lose its crackle
and become stretchy.
Finally, put the tomato back in the proofer
and let it settle for at least an hour.
There you have it, a perfectly fresh and raw tomato.
You can use it for delicious pico de gallo,
or a fresh and zippy bruschetta.
A lot of my friends say I should just buy store tomatoes,
but I still prefer them homemade.
Aaron C. Molden