Tomato –

Scientific Name and Common Name

Solanum lycopersicum

Love Apple, Tomato

organic_CSA_farm_tomatoes

About –

The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a herbaceous, usually sprawling plant in the nightshade family widely cultivated for its edible fruit. Savory in flavor, the fruit of most varieties ripens to a distinctive red color. There now exist hundreds of different varieties of tomatoes.

The tomato is native to South  and Central America. Genetic evidence shows the progenitors of tomatoes were herbaceous green plants with small green fruit with a center of diversity in the highlands of Peru. One species, Solanum lycopersicum, was transported to Mexico where it was grown and consumed by mesoamerican civilizations. The exact date of domestication is not known, but by 500 BC, it was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas. The first domesticated tomato may have been a little yellow fruit, similar in size to Cherry tomatoes, grown by the Aztecs of Central Mexico. Aztec writings mention tomatoes were prepared with peppers, corn and salt. The word tomato comes from the Aztec tomatl. It first appeared in print in 1595. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous (although the leaves are) by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit.

heirloom_tomatoes

Tomato plants are vines, initially decumbent, typically growing six feet or more above the ground if supported, although erect bush varieties have been bred, generally three feet tall or shorter. Indeterminate types are “tender” perennials, dying annually in temperate climates (they are originally native to tropical highlands), although they can live up to three years in a greenhouse in some cases. Determinate types are annual in all climates. Tomato fruit is classified as a berry. Though it is botanically a berry, a subset of fruit, the tomato is nutritionally categorized as a vegetable.

organic CSA farm tomato flats

Nutritional Information

Red tomatoes, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy
75 kJ (18 kcal)
Carbohydrates
4 g
Sugars
2.6 g
Dietary fiber
1 g
Fat
0.2 g
Protein
1 g
Water
95 g
Vitamin C
13 mg (22%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.

Culture, Uses and Recipes

The plant is a perennial, often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual. The tomato is now grown worldwide for its edible fruits, with thousands of cultivars having been selected with varying fruit types, and for optimum growth in differing growing conditions. Cultivated tomatoes vary in size from tomberries, about 5mm in diameter, through cherry tomatoes, about the same 1–2 centimetres (0.4–0.8 in) size as the wild tomato, up to beefsteak tomatoes 10 centimetres (4 in) or more in diameter. The most widely grown commercial tomatoes tend to be in the 5–6 centimetres (2.0–2.4 in) diameter range. Most cultivars produce red fruit; but a number of cultivars with yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, black, or white fruit are also available. Multicolored and striped fruit can also be quite striking. Tomatoes grown for canning and sauces are often elongated, 7–9 centimetres (3–4 in) long and 4–5 centimetres (1.6–2.0 in) diameter; they are known as plum tomatoes, and have a lower water content.

Heirlooms

As a true fruit, it develops from the ovary of the plant after fertilization, its flesh comprising the pericarp walls. The fruit contains hollow spaces full of seeds and moisture, called locular cavities. These vary, among cultivated species, according to type. Some smaller varieties have two cavities, globe-shaped varieties typically have three to five, beefsteak tomatoes have a great number of smaller cavities, while paste tomatoes have very few, very small cavities. The seeds need to come from a mature fruit, and be dried/fermented before germination.

Tomato plants are dicots, and grow as a series of branching stems, with a terminal bud at the tip that does the actual growing. When that tip eventually stops growing, whether because of pruning or flowering, lateral buds take over and grow into other, fully functional, vines.

Tomato plant vines are typically pubescent, meaning covered with fine short hairs. These hairs facilitate the vining process, turning into roots wherever the plant is in contact with the ground and moisture, especially if there is some issue with the vine’s contact to its original root.

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Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other things. They contain lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. In some studies lycopene, especially in cooked tomatoes, has been found to help prevent prostate cancer  but other research contradicts this claim.

Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays.  Natural genetic variation in tomatoes and their wild relatives has given a genetic treasure trove of genes that produce lycopene, carotene, anthocyanin, and other antioxidants.  Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C, 40 times normal vitamin A , high levels of anthocyanin, and two to four times the normal amount of lycopene (numerous available cultivars with the high crimson gene).

Tomato consumption has been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer, head and neck cancers and might be strongly protective against neurodegenerative diseases.

Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The tomato is acidic; this acidity makes tomatoes especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce, or paste. Tomato juice is often canned and sold as a beverage; Unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often by sun, and sold either in bags or in jars in oil.

Recipes

Maria’s Chunky Salsa   ~Submitted by Maria Torres

  • 4-5 cups diced Roma tomatoes
  • ½ of one red, yellow, and white onion (diced)
  • ½ of one red, yellow, gold and orange bell pepper (diced)
  • 4-5 Jalapeños
  • 3-4 Serrano
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • Juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  1.  Dice up all the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and mash the garlic. Mix all ingredients together. Salt to taste.

Hot Mama Salsa  ~ by Love Farm Organics

  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • 4-5 Jalapeños
  • ½ Habanero
  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • ½ of one lime juiced
  1. Place chopped tomatoes, jalapeños and habanero in a saucepan with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until they are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place tomatoes and peppers in blender add minced garlic, pepper, salt, garlic salt, cumin, oregano, cilantro and water then puree until smooth.
  3. Pour contents into bowl and add lime juice and salt to taste.

Gluten Free Albondigas Soup (Meatball and Zucchini Soup)   ~by Louisa Wright

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  • ¾ tsp. cominos (cumin seed)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 beef bullion cube
  • 6 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • Sprigs of cilantro

1.  Combine meat, cominos, salt, and garlic in large bowl.
2.  Pinch off 1 inch pieces, roll into balls, and fry in oil until golden brown on all sides.
3.  Bring a cup of water to a boil.  Add tomatoes, cover, and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes.
4.  Drain tomatoes.
5.  Put meatballs in a large soup pot with tomatoes, bullion, and zucchini with 3 c. water.
6.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes.
7.  Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and serve (serves 6).  Delicious with warmed up corn tortillas.