If you’re fortunate enough to live in or close to a tomato-growing region in the country, your best bet is to seek out locally grown tomatoes in the height of summer, when they’re at their peak. The most excellent tomatoes are almost always going to be the ones that have traveled the shortest distance, and are more likely to be ripened on the vine rather than in the back of a refrigerated truck.
Hold but do not squeeze
You’ve got to pick ’em up! Smaller tomatoes should be firm but not hard; larger tomatoes should feel heavy for their size and neither too solid nor too soft or swollen. (Remember: They’ll continue to ripen on your counter at home.)
Seek out tomatoes that are uniformly ripe
Avoid tomatoes that have hard or pale spots near the stem as well as ones with large bruises or cracks that are too long or deep to trim away. They should be shiny, with a smooth, uniform skin.