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T is for Tomato

Updated on August 8, 2013

The Ever So Tasty Tomatoes

Have you ever wondered if tomato is a fruit or vegetables? Actually, a tomato belongs to the family of nightshade known for its edible fruit, savory flavor and distinctive red color when it ripens. It is native to South America particularly in Mexico where it was originated and grown.

Most people think of them as vegetables but in fact they are fruit. Often grown in temperate climates annually. Some tomato tastes not that sweet like a typical fruit and considered as vegetables for culinary cuisines because of its versatility in cooking. I definitely love anything tomato based dishes so check out recipes I included here that is perfect in your future family menu. Hopefully this lens will help you sort them out a bit more and find new ways to cook with them.

Do you know?

  1. The word tomato comes from the Aztec tomatl.
  2. More than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced per year, 16 million tons more than the second most popular fruit, the banana.
  3. It was first cultivated in 700 AD by Aztecs and Incas. Explorers returning from Mexico introduced the tomato into Europe, where it was first mentioned in 1556. The French called it "the apple of love," the Germans "the apple of paradise."
  4. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C and fiber, and are cholesterol free.
  5. Cooked tomatoes has higher concentrations of lycopene than non-cooked tomatoes.
  6. Tomato is considered as the world's most popular fruit.

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The tomato is a savory, typically red, edible fruit, as well as the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) which bears it. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates.

The tomato fruit is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes (as well as by the United States Supreme Court, see Nix v. Hedden), which has caused some confusion. The fruit is rich in lycopene, which may have beneficial health effects.

The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. The plants typically grow to 1-3 metres (3-10 ft) in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. It is a perennial in its native habitat, although often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual.

read the rest of the Wikipedia article

* Common Name: Tomato

* Scientific name: Solanum lycopersicum

* Family: Solanaceae

* Genus: Solanum

Types of Tomatoes

There are wide variety of tomatoes with variations of color from green to deep red when it ripens. Here is a list of the most commonly grown and distributed varieties.

Plum Tomatoes

- It is a type of tomato commonly used for sauce and packing purposes. They are generally oval, or cylindrical in shape with a fewer seeds.

Cherry Tomatoes

- It is a much smaller variety of tomato and often more sour than standard tomatoes also known as grape tomatoes. It was widely cultivated in Central America. There are a number of cherry tomato varieties.

(Multi-colored) Heirloom Tomatoes

-These are heirloom cultivar of tomato. It can be found in a wide variety of colors from yellow to red swirls having a mild and sweet flavor. Some Heirloom varieties also includes Big Rainbow, Blaby Special, Black Krim, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Hillbilly, Jubilee, Lilian's Yellow Heirloom, Mortgage Lifter and Arkansas Traveler.

Campari Tomatoes

-This is originally from Europe and introduced in America in 1996. More juicier with high sugar level, low mealiness, low acidity and deep red that is much larger than cherry tomatoes but smaller and rounder than plum tomatoes.

Basic Steps on How to Grow Tomatoes

There are different ways on how to plant tomatoes basically planting it first in a container so that seedlings spring and later on transplant into the direct soil. But first off, you shouldn't miss that there are a few basic gardening concepts to bear in mind. When planning the location and layout of your garden, these considerations can make a huge difference.

It is given that tomatoes is best grown under healthy conditions formed by a combination of water, sunlight, good air circulation and protection from pests. Of course, you should use high grade soil with plenty of organic material to ensure the quality of tomatoes you will produce.

Photo Courtesy of GloomyCorp

Information Courtesy of Tomato Growing Tips

How to Grow Tomatoes : How to Raise Tomatoes From Seed

Perfect Gift for all the Tomato Plant Lover out there!

Dalen Gardeneer AU-16R Tomato Tray, Red, Pack of 3
Dalen Gardeneer AU-16R Tomato Tray, Red, Pack of 3

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La Tomatina (Tomatina) held in the Valencian town of Buol in Spain, where the participants throw tomatoes at each other.

La Tomatina (Tomatina) held in the Valencian town of Buol in Spain, where the participants throw tomatoes at each other.
La Tomatina (Tomatina) held in the Valencian town of Buol in Spain, where the participants throw tomatoes at each other.

Nutrition Facts

The average consumption of tomato per person contains a significant amounts of dietary fiber, beta-carotene, iron, lycopene, magnesium, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin and thiamine. It is a top source of Vitamin A and C usually in the Western diet.

Tomato is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. And unlike most foods, cooking or processing of tomato is beneficial to health. It increases its lycopene content (e.g. tomato paste, catsup, tomato soup, tomato sauce). This is so because as heating up tomato breaks down its cell walls and releasing more lycopene, a phytochemical that is beneficial to good health. Test also shows that eating tomatoes has more benefits (with all of its other ingredients) than taking lycopene alone.

Salsa

-Salsa can be made quickly, and it goes with chips, crackers, wraps, salads and tacos. You can even eat it plain when you're on the go.

Catsup

-The basic ingredients of this condiment are tomatoes, sugar, dry mustard, allspice, cider vinegar, salt, black pepper and cloves.

Chunky Stew

-You can actually add tomatoes to your favorite soups, especially ones that already have a variety of vegetables in them. Or you can create a tomato base soup.

Pasta Sauce

- A really tasty pasta sauce is one of the most anticipating part of a Spaghetti dish.

Salad

- A simple tomato salad is so delicious. It is a perfect hors doeuvre (appetizers) but it works well with pasta too.

Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Foodtrippings.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pack (500 grams) Penne
  • cooked al dente
  • 2 cans (400 gram each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup canned pimiento
  • chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups ham cubes
  • 2 cups quickmelt cheese
  • grated
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quickmelt cheese
  • grated for topping

Instructions

  1. 1. In a saucepan, add diced tomatoes, cream, chopped pimiento, butter, ham cubes, grated cheese ( the 2 cups of cheese) and oregano.
  2. 2. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until sauce is smooth.
  3. 3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. 4. Place cooked penne pasta in baking dish, add in creamy tomato sauce and mix well.
  5. 5. Top with grated cheese ( 1 cup of cheese) and bake for 30 minutes in 350 degrees oven.
Cast your vote for Baked Creamy Tomato Penne Recipe

Recipe Books about Tomatoes

T is for Tomato Guestbook - Your comments are highly appreciated. Thank you.

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    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 

      6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Ah... the veggie that's a fruit. Might be confusing, but it makes good spaghetti! Congrats on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • profile image

      SherryShriver 

      6 years ago

      I love organic gardening and food grown with love! Thanks for all the great ideas! I can hardly wait to try them out in Rancho Santa Fe California!

    • dawngibson lm profile image

      dawngibson lm 

      7 years ago

      I would like a tomato dessert.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 

      7 years ago

      i love using tomato when cooking because there's so much you could do with it, when eating raw, i particularly like the texture of plum tomato

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 

      7 years ago

      Hi Naiza! I LOVE tomatoes! Lovely lens - I can almost smell those garden fresh tomatoes now (well... not quite... it's too early in New Hampshire to grow yet!). :)

      You might be interested in a cute thing we saw a few years ago. We visited Plymouth Plantation, which is a place in Massachussetts that brings one back in time to when the Pilgrims were first in the US. The actors all act as though it were a typical day in the 1600s. While talking with one of them, I asked, "So, do you grow tomatoes?" The actress's eyes got wide, and said, "Oh, no, mum... they're poisonous!" because evidently people thought they WERE poisonous back then...

      Then, I asked if they grew garlic (which is one of my favorite crops to grow), and she said, without skipping a beat, "Mum... we may be poor, but we're not THAT poor!" (evidently garlic was not as prized as it is today!)

      Thanks for a good read!

      :) Kath

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I love tomatoes, we normally use plum tomatoes in my part of the world, however i have tasted cherry tomatoes and love them as salad. Wonderful information on tomatoes!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 

      7 years ago

      Tomatoes are one of the best treats around.

      Warm from the garden, sliced and salted with a cold glass of 1% milk! Now that's a dinner

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      I used to buy tomatoes by the box. We ate them as they are or used them in salat, cooking or deep froze them.

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