Amazing Health Benefits of Tomatoes and Nutritional Value o

What is are Tomatoes?

The tomato is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, along with bell peppers, aubergine, and potatoes. Tomatoes have fleshy internal segments filled with slippery seeds surrounded by a watery matrix. They can be red, yellow, orange, green, or brown in color. In fact, there are over a thousand different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color.

There are small cherry tomatoes, bright yellow tomatoes, Italian pear-shaped tomatoes, and the green tomato, famous for its fried preparation in southern American cuisine. Although tomatoes are fruit in a botanical sense, since they don’t have the sweet quality of other fruit they are commonly thought of as a vegetable. For this reason, they are included in this chapter.

History of Tomatoes

The tomato, like many other members of the nightshade family, originated in Central and South America. The first type of tomato grown is thought to have resembled the smaller-sized cherry tomato more than the larger varieties. The tomato was first cultivated in Mexico, supposedly because the Mexican Indians were intrigued by this fruit since it resembled the tomatillo, which was a staple in their cuisine.

The Spanish conquistadors who came to Mexico shortly after Columbus’s discovery of the New World “discovered” tomatoes and took the seeds back to Spain, beginning the introduction of the tomato into Europe. Although the tomato spread throughout Europe and made its way to Italy by the sixteenth century, it was originally not a very popular food because many people held the belief that it was poisonous since it was a member of the deadly nightshade family.

They were wise to fear that the tomato plant was poisonous, but their fear was not entirely accurate as it is the leaves of the tomato plant, but not its fruit, that contain toxic alkaloids. Yet, due to this belief, tomatoes were more often grown as an ornamental garden plant than as a food for several more centuries in some European countries. The name the tomato was given in various languages reflects some of the history and mystery surrounding it. The Latin name, Lycopersicon, means “wolf peach” and refers to the former belief that, like a wolf, this fruit was dangerous.

The French called it pomme d’am0ur, meaning “love apple,” since they believed it to have aphrodisiac qualities, while the Italians named it pomodoro, or “golden apple,” probably owing to the fact that the first known species with which they were familiar were yellow in color. Tomatoes made their way to North America with the colonists who first settled in Virginia, yet did not readily gain popularity until the late nineteenth century.

Part of the reason may have been the widely held belief in North America that tomatoes were poisonous, even though by that time they had become a dietary staple in many parts of Europe. It wasn’t until 1820, when Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a tomato on the courthouse steps in Salem, Indiana, that the “poisonous tomato” barrier was broken.

Since new varieties have been developed and more efficient means of transportation established, tomatoes have become one of the top-selling vegetables in the United States. Today, the United States, the Russian Federation, Italy, Spain, China, and Turkey are among the top-selling commercial producers of tomatoes.

Tomato Varieties

There are hundreds of tomato varieties. From marble-sized grape or cherry tomatoes, to juicy salad tomatoes, meaty paste tomatoes, and huge, sweet, beefsteak tomatoes. Their colors range from deep crimson to orange, yellow, green, purple, and chocolate.

Determinate Tomatoes are bush types that grow 2-3 feet (60-90cm) tall, then the buds at the ends of all the branches form flowers instead of leaves. They flower all at once, set and ripen fruit, then die.

Indeterminate Tomatoes are vining types that need caging or staking for support, but will continue to grow and set fruit until frost kills them. They’re generally later than determinate tomatoes, and produce larger crops over a longer period.

Indeterminate tomatoes set flowers on lateral shoots off the main stems. If trained to a single or double leader and given support, many indeterminate tomato varieties can reach 8-10’ (1.5-3m) tall.

For the home gardener, mixing types of tomatoes spreads the fresh tomato harvest over the longest possible season. Plant determinate or early indeterminate tomato varieties for early summer tomatoes, and salad or beefsteak tomatoes for mid- and- late-summer harvest. If you like thick, rich tomato sauces, be sure to include some paste tomatoes in the mix.

Cherry and Grape Tomatoes

If you’re growing tomatoes for the first time, or growing tomatoes in pots, Cherry Tomatoes are a good place to start. Cherry and grape tomatoes are small, usually less than 1” (2.5cm), and grow in large clusters.

Cherry tomatoes are generally the best choices for cool, alpine, or short-summer gardens, and small fruit size means they’re more suitable if you’re growing tomatoes in containers. They tend to have better disease resistance than larger tomato varieties, and they’re more forgiving of drought stress and poor soil.

They’re also a hit with toddlers and kids, so if you’re trying to instill an appreciation for fresh foods in your kids, growing cherry tomatoes is a good start.

‘Sweet 100’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-70 days) is a great-tasting, prolific cherry tomato. The vigorous indeterminate vines produce dozens of irresistibly sweet, bite-sized tomatoes on long trusses.

Sungold’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65 days, resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts 1 and 2) produces sweet, orange, 1” (2.5cm) tomatoes that are perfect for salads. Its vigorous, indeterminate vines start producing early, and keep producing till first frost.

‘Black Cherry’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 70 days) has large clusters of 1”, deep purplish-red fruit with true tomato taste, not just sweetness. Great resistance to diseases for an heirloom tomato.

Salad Tomatoes

Salad Tomatoes form 2-3” (5-7.5cm) diameter fruit, perfect for slicing on sandwiches or chopping into salads. They’re usually a little tarter and juicier than cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes, with some acid to balance their sweetness. Some have undertones of tropical fruits.

Salad tomatoes make a great, quick tomato sauce, but if they’re really juicy you’ll have to cook them down to the right consistency.

Salad tomatoes have more cultivars than any other type of tomato. Here are a few favorites:

Pantano Romanesco’ (Heirloom, Indeterminate, 70-75 days) became one of our favorite red slicing tomatoes after our first season growing it. Pantano Romanesco has the perfect balance between sweetness and citrussy tartness, a wonderful tomato.

Green Zebra’ (Heirloom, Indeterminate, 70-75 days) is a tart, pale green 2-4″ (5-10 cm) tomato with darker green stripes that’s among the best heirloom salad tomatoes. Tomatoes are ripe when the shoulders have a yellowish cast. Fast-growing indeterminate vines.

Black Zebra’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 75-80 days) is similar to ‘Green Zebra’, but with deep, purplish-black flesh with red streaks, and great flavor. Vigorous indeterminate vines have good disease resistance for an heirloom.

Costoluto Genovese’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, 80-85 days) is so heavily ribbed that it looks misshapen, but these are some of the juiciest, best-tasting tomatoes you’ll ever grow. These twisted, deep red tomatoes have orange shoulders when they’re ripe, so don’t leave them on the vine too long—usually not a problem since they’re so good! A client favorite in spite of relatively low yields.

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Sweet Clusters‘ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-75 days) is one of the hothouse tomatoes you see in big, pricey clusters in the middle of winter. Vine-ripened in the summer, it’s almost like a different fruit. Perfect balance between sweetness, tartness, and tomato flavor. The vigorous vines are easy to train ‘Italian Grandfather Style’

Valencia‘ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 76 days) is a 2-3” (5-7.5cm) orange tomato with the texture—and flavor!—of a sweet, ripe mango, with a citrussy edge. Not too juicy, very few seeds. Indeterminate vines are shorter than most, so plant in front of taller varieties.

Carmello’ (F1 Hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-70 days) is a midsize, 3-4” (7-10cm) tomato with a nice balance between acidic and sweet. Very productive, indeterminate vines produce late into the season.

Stupice‘ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate potato-leafed, 60-65 days) produces deep-red, 2” (5cm), oblong tomatoes. Starts early and produces continuously for the whole summer, even in cool-summer gardens.

Early Girl‘ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 80 days) is a great tomato for early harvest and northern or cool-summer gardens. It produces clusters of 1½-2” (4-5cm) deep-red fruits with just the right combination of sweetness and true tomato flavor.

Enchantment‘ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 72 days, resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts 1 and 2, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus) is a 3” (7.5cm), oval salad tomato that grows in fat clusters spiraling around the vine. One of the most versatile tomatoes you can grow, it has great flavor, but is not so juicy that you can’t make a quick sauce without having to cook off a lot of water. One of the best varieties for making oven-dried tomatoes. Vigorous indeterminate vines. May be susceptible to Blossom End Rot in hot or under-watered gardens. Seeds are getting hard to find.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak Tomatoes produce large, heavy fruit. These are the big, thick, meaty tomatoes that are so prized for sandwiches—and one of the main reasons for growing tomatoes. Some varieties reach 6” (15cm) in diameter, and can weigh in from 1-3 lbs (0.45-1.4 kg).

Beefsteak tomatoes need a longer growing season and more heat than smaller varieties, so they may not be suitable for short-summer or cool-summer gardens.

Big Beef’ (F1 hybrid, 75-80 days, resists verticillium and fusarium wilts 1 and 2, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus) is an early beefsteak variety that’s a good choice for growing tomatoes in cooler climates. 4-6” (10-15cm) tomatoes, firm texture, good tomato flavor. Good performer in most areas.

Brandywine Pink’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate potato-leafed, 85 days) is a classic beefsteak tomato. They have great flavor and consistently win tomato tastings, but they’re not very productive

Cherokee Purple’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) has a smokey sweetness that makes it a client favorite year after year. Plants are not as productive as other beefsteak varieties, but even clients with limited space request this variety.

Caspian Pink’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate potato-leafed, 85 days) is a classic beefsteak tomato, juicy and sweet. My wife’s favorite tomato.

Hillbilly’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) is an orange heirloom beefsteak tomato with red streaks through its flesh, almost like a peach. Beautiful sliced on a sandwich or cut in large wedges.

Black Krim’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) is one of the most flavorful heirloom beefsteak tomatoes. Large, sweet, reddish-purple fruits are beautiful sliced or cut in wedges. Clients request this variety year after year.

Mortgage Lifter’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) is a huge red heirloom beefsteak tomato that produces heavy yields on strong, indeterminate vines. Fruits weigh as much as 2 lbs.

Roma (Paste) Tomatoes

Roma (Paste) Tomatoes are dense Italian plum tomatoes like San Marzano, with sweet, firm flesh, high pectin content, not much juice, and few seeds…the perfect sauce tomato, since it thickens naturally and needs less cooking time to evaporate off excess moisture.

Their low moisture content gives them extended fresh storage time, and they’re great for drying or topping pizzas.

Big Mama’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 80 days produces huge (3″ x 5″–7 x 13cm), heavy paste tomatoes that make excellent sauce, especially if sliced in half and fire-roasted first.

San Marzano’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 85 days, resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilt 1, tobacco mosaic virus, nematodes, and bacterial speck) produces high yields of heavy, 1 ½ x 5” (4 x 12cm) fruits. Vigorous indeterminate plants.

Hybrid vs. Heirloom Tomato Varieties

Hybrid Tomato Varieties are bred for higher yields, disease resistance, ease of harvesting, or—in the worst case—extended shelf life.

Hybrid tomato varieties are crosses between different cultivars, and there’s little chance they’ll produce true to form from saved seeds—they usually revert to one of the parents, or some random combination of traits instead of the ones selected to increase yield and performance.

For decades, plant breeders and seed companies focused on producing tomatoes that work with large-scale, mechanized production. That meant determinate tomatoes, which are easier and more predictable to harvest, but they went a step further and selected for tomatoes with thick skins and less moisture.

The most egregious example is the “12-mile-an-hour” tomato. These “tomatoes” were bred to withstand the impact of the mechanical tomato harvester (12 miles per hour). They’re harvested just as they’re turning pink, and gassed with ethylene gas to give them a reddish color. Unlike any real tomato, these will last for months after harvest.

Such “tomatoes” are easier to harvest and get to market, so they gradually displaced better tomatoes in supermarkets, and consumers came to accept these mealy imposters because they had no other choice.

Fortunately, home gardeners have always had a choice. If a hybrid tasted great or produced prodigiously, they’d plant it, but if it was mealy and bland, they could ask Mrs. Potreli down the street for some seeds for those rambling, tasty tomatoes from her garden.

Heirloom tomato varieties, prized for superior flavor or excellent performance under local conditions, have been passed down through families or from neighbor to neighbor and saved for generations. Heirloom tomato varieties are “open-pollinated”, meaning they’ll reproduce true to form from saved seeds.

These juicy, thin-skinned beauties can’t be shipped long distances, so large-scale tomato farmers—and companies that supply them seed—ignored them. Fortunately, home gardeners and local farmers preserved many from extinction, and thanks to organizations like the Seed Savers Exchange, they’re now more widely available.

When I started growing tomatoes organically, farmers and seed companies were asleep at the switch, and we were losing tomato cultivars at an alarming rate. Planting hybrid tomatoes was considered immoral, a capitulation to agribusiness seed companies.

Now, with the rise of the chef-driven local foods movement and the revitalization of farmers markets and small-scale vegetable farming and gardening, heirloom tomato varieties are avidly pursued, not just preserved.

Some organic gardeners remain heirloom tomato purists, and turn their noses up at the thought of growing hybrid tomato varieties, or hybrid varieties of any vegetable.

I am not among them. I’ve always grown tomatoes in challenging, cool-summer climates, where a limited number of tomatoes will work. If an heirloom variety produces well in my climate, I’m happy to grow it, but I’m just as happy growing a hybrid tomato variety that produces bumper crops of delicious tomatoes.

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Such “tomatoes” are easier to harvest and get to market, so they gradually displaced better tomatoes in supermarkets, and consumers came to accept these mealy imposters because they had no other choice.

Fortunately, home gardeners have always had a choice. If a hybrid tasted great or produced prodigiously, they’d plant it, but if it was mealy and bland, they could ask Mrs. Potreli down the street for some seeds for those rambling, tasty tomatoes from her garden.

Heirloom tomato varieties, prized for superior flavor or excellent performance under local conditions, have been passed down through families or from neighbor to neighbor and saved for generations. Heirloom tomato varieties are “open-pollinated”, meaning they’ll reproduce true to form from saved seeds.

These juicy, thin-skinned beauties can’t be shipped long distances, so large-scale tomato farmers—and companies that supply them seed—ignored them. Fortunately, home gardeners and local farmers preserved many from extinction, and thanks to organizations like the Seed Savers Exchange, they’re now more widely available.

When I started growing tomatoes organically, farmers and seed companies were asleep at the switch, and we were losing tomato cultivars at an alarming rate. Planting hybrid tomatoes was considered immoral, a capitulation to agribusiness seed companies.

Nutritional Highlights of Tomatoes

The tomato is a low-calorie food packed with nutrition, especially when fully ripe. For example, red tomatoes have up to four times the amount of beta-carotene as green tomatoes. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenes (especially lycopene), biotin, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folic acid, and dietary fiber. A 100 gram serving of cooked tomato provides 32 calories with 2 grams of fiber.

Nutrition Facts: Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw – 100 grams

Amount
Calories 18
Water 95 %
Protein 0.9 g
Carbs 3.9 g
Sugar 2.6 g
Fiber 1.2 g
Fat 0.2 g
Saturated 0.03 g
Monounsaturated 0.03 g
Polyunsaturated 0.08 g
Omega-3 0 g
Omega-6 0.08 g
Trans fat ~

Carbs

Carbohydrates make up 4% of raw tomatoes, which amounts to less than 5 grams of carbs for an average sized tomato (123 grams). Simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, make up almost 70% of the carbohydrate content.

Fiber

Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, providing about 1.5 grams per average sized tomato. Most of the fibers (87%) in tomatoes are insoluble, in the form of hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin.

Vitamins and Minerals

Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C: An essential nutrient and antioxidant. One medium sized tomato can provide about 28% of the recommended daily intake.

Potassium: An essential mineral, beneficial for blood pressure control and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is important for blood coagulation and bone health.

Folate B9: One of the B-vitamins, important for normal tissue growth and cell function. It is particularly important for pregnant women.

Other Plant Compounds

The content of vitamins and plant compounds can vary greatly between different tomato varieties and sampling periods.

Here is a list of the main plant compounds in tomatoes.

Lycopene: A red pigment and antioxidant, which has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.

Beta-Carotene: A yellow antioxidant, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.

Naringenin: Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to decrease inflammation and protect against various diseases in mice.

Chlorogenic acid: A powerful antioxidant compound, which may lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure. Chlorophylls and carotenoids are responsible for the color of tomatoes.

When the ripening process starts, the chlorophyll (green) is degraded and carotenoids (red) are synthesized.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

The health-promoting ability of tomatoes has received a lot of attention recently because of their lycopene content. This red carotene has been shown to be extremely protective against breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancers. It has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Lycopene helps prevent these diseases and others by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals before they can do damage to cellular structures. In one of the more detailed studies, Harvard researchers discovered that men who consumed the highest levels of lycopene (6.5 milligrams per day) in their diet showed a 21 percent decreased risk of prostate cancer compared with those eating the lowest levels.

Men who ate two or more servings of tomato sauce each week were 23 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer during the twenty-two years of the study than men who ate less than one serving of tomato sauce each month. In another study, lycopene supplementation (15 milligrams per day) given to patients with existing prostate cancer was shown to slow tumor growth, shrink the tumor, and lower the level of PSA (prostate-specific antigen, a marker of cancer activity) by 18 percent.

The amount of lycopene in tomatoes can vary significantly, depending upon the type of tomato and how ripe it is. In the reddest strains, lycopene concentration is close to 50 milligrams per kilogram, compared with only 5 milligrams per kilogram in the yellow strains. Lycopene appears to be relatively stable during cooking and food processing. In fact, you actually get up to five times as much lycopene from tomato paste or juice as you do from raw tomatoes, because processing “liberates” more lycopene from the plant’s cells. Eating a lycopene source with oil, such as olive oil, can also improve its absorption.

Antioxidant Agent

Tomato contains a large amount of lycopene, an antioxidant that is highly effective in scavenging cancer-causing free radicals. This benefit can even be obtained from heat-processed tomato products like ketchup. The lycopene in tomatoes defends against cancer and has been shown to be effective in fighting prostate cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the stomach and rectum as well as pharynx and esophageal cancers. It also protects against breast and mouth cancer, according to studies published by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals

A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant which prevents cancer-causing free radicals from damaging the body’s systems. It also contains abundant vitamin A and potassium, as well as iron. Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining nerve health and iron is essential for maintaining normal blood circulation. Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and controlling bleeding, is also abundant in tomatoes.

Protect the Heart

The lycopene in tomatoes prevents serum lipid oxidation, thus exerting a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases . A regular consumption of tomatoes has been proven to decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. These lipids are the key culprits in cardiovascular diseases and lead to the deposition of fats in the blood vessels.

Counter the Effect of Smoking Cigarette

The coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, in tomatoes, fight against nitrosamines, which are the main carcinogens found in cigarettes. The presence of vitamin A in high quantities has been shown to reduce the effects of carcinogens and can protect you against lung cancer.

Improve Vision

Vitamin A, present in tomatoes, aids in improving vision and preventing night-blindness and macular degeneration. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can be formed from an excess of beta-carotene in the body. A lot of vision problems occur due to the negative effects of free radicals and vitamin A, being a powerful antioxidant, can help prevent them.

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Aid in Digestion

Tomatoes keep the digestive system healthy by preventing both constipation and diarrhea. They also prevent jaundice and effectively remove toxins from the body. Furthermore, they have a large amount [4] of fiber, which can bulk the bowels and reduce symptoms of constipation. A healthy amount of fiber helps stimulate peristaltic motion in the smooth digestive muscles and release gastric and digestive juices. This can regulate your bowel movements, thereby improving your overall digestive health and helping you avoid conditions like colorectal cancer.

Lower Hypertension

Consuming a tomato daily reduces the risk of developing hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This is partially due to the impressive levels of potassium found in tomatoes. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it reduces the tension in blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing circulation and lowering the stress on the heart by eliminating hypertension.

Manage Diabetes

A study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that daily consumption of tomatoes reduces the oxidative stress of type 2 diabetes.

Skin Care

Tomatoes aid in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, hair, and skin. Topical application of tomato juice is even known to cure severe sunburns. Daily consumption protects the skin against UV-induced erythema. They rank high in the preparation of anti-aging products.

Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Tomato intake reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections, as well as bladder cancer. This is because tomatoes are high in water content, which can stimulate urination; hence, they are a diuretic. This increases the elimination of toxins from the body, as well as excess water, salts, uric acid, and some fats as well!

Prevent Gallstones

Regular consumption of tomatoes can provide relief from gallstones. There have been various studies to prove their efficacy against many chronic diseases and varieties of cancer. The antioxidant properties of tomatoes can also be derived from processed foods like ketchup and purees. Daily consumption of tomatoes fulfills the requirement of vitamins and minerals and exerts an overall protective effect on the body.

Pregnancy

Adequate folate intake is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is available in supplements but can also be boosted through dietary measures.

While it is recommended that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are a great source of naturally-occurring folate. This applies equally for women who may become pregnant in the near future.

How To Select And Store Tomatoes

Good-quality tomatoes are well formed and plump, fully colored, firm, and free from bruise marks. Avoid tomatoes that are soft or show signs of bruising or decay. They should not have a puffy appearance, since this indicates that they will be of inferior flavor and will also cause excess waste during preparation due to their higher water content. Ripe tomatoes will yield to slight pressure and will have a noticeably sweet fragrance.

When buying canned tomatoes, it is often better to buy those that are produced in the United States or E.U., as many countries do not have strict standards for lead content in containers. This is especially important with a fruit such as tomatoes, whose high acid content can cause corrosion and subsequent migration into the foods of the metal with which it is in contact.

Since tomatoes are sensitive to cold and it will impede their ripening process, store them at room temperature and out of direct exposure to sunlight. They will keep for up to one week, depending upon how ripe they are when purchased. To hasten the ripening process, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple, since the ethylene gas that these fruits emit will hasten the tomatoes’ maturation. If the tomatoes begin to become overripe but you are not yet ready to eat them, place them in the refrigerator (if possible, in the butter compartment, which is a warmer area), where they will keep for one to two more days.

Removing them from the refrigerator about thirty minutes before using will help them to regain their maximum flavor and juiciness. Whole tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and tomato sauce freeze well for future use in cooked dishes. Sun-dried tomatoes should be stored in an airtight container, with or without olive oil, in a cool dry place. Cooked tomatoes will keep for five to seven days refrigerated.

Tips For Preparing Tomatoes

Soak tomatoes in cold water with a mild solution of additive-free soap or produce wash, rinse under cool running water, and pat dry. It is better to cut tomatoes vertically, rather than horizontally, as this process will allow them to better retain their juice and seeds.

Sometimes recipes call for peeled tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to first blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds. After carefully removing them, place them in a colander in the sink and rinse them briefly under cold running water. Use a paring knife to gently remove the skin, which should now come off rather easily.

tomato

If your recipe requires seeded tomatoes, cut the fruit in half horizontally and gently squeeze out the seeds and the juice. Any remaining seeds can be extracted by hand or with a small spoon. It is especially important when cooking tomatoes not to use aluminum cookware, since the high acid content of tomatoes will interact with the metal. This may result in the migration of the aluminum into the tomatoes, which will not only impart an unpleasant taste but, more important, may have deleterious effects on your health.

Quick Serving Ideas for Tomatoes

‘ Tomatoes are a nutritious addition to salads and soups. To make things colorful, use yellow, green, and purple tomatoes in addition to the red varieties. ‘ Slice a variety of tomatoes (red, yellow, and orange) and top with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a quick and nutritious salad.For a quick salsa dip, combine chopped onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers.Purée tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and spring onions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make the refreshing cold soup gazpacho. Add tomato slices to sandwiches and salads.

Tomato Facts

Slice them for sandwiches, toss them in salads, cook them into sauces or squeeze them for juice: tomatoes are delicious and good for us, packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and lycopene.

Think you know all about tomatoes? Read on, and discover some fun facts.

Eating cooked tomatoes may act as a kind of internal sunscreen, according to researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle, England, by helping block UV rays. But eating tomatoes is only a supplement to using sunscreens, they caution, not a replacement.You can save the seeds from hybrid tomatoes, but you won’t grow tomatoes exactly like the ones you started with. To get identical tomatoes, grow seeds from heirlooms.Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. The government classified it as a vegetable in the late 1800s so it could be taxe

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