When I think of tomatoes, I think of bushels and bushels of them, especially at this time of year! Mom and dad, aunts and uncles would set a date to go to the farm and hand pick tomatoes, one by one, for the annual ritual of preserving this amazing fruit! (Yes, we all know by now that the tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable.) Because this process would take place over a few days, sometimes a couple of weeks, they would bring home some ripe and some not-so-ripe and lay them out on a blanket on the floor of our ‘furnace room’. I can still see it. And smell it. The house would smell of tomatoes for weeks!
Preserving tomatoes was so important to us as they are such a staple in Italian cuisine. And there is nothing like a sun-ripened garden grown tomato. So canning them when they are at their peak for ripeness and flavour is essential. Everyone has their own method but the idea is the same.Our storage room had jars and jars of whole tomatoes and bottles of the sweet pureé, enough to last until August rolled around again the following year.
There are so many different types of tomatoes, and not all of them are red! As a matter of fact, some of the heirloom varieties can be yellow, orange, green, and even plum hues. All of them are gorgeous and all of them are super rich in antioxidants, especially lycopene which has been linked to many health benefits including reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. They are also high in Vitamin C, potassium, folate and Vitamin K. (Adda Bjarnadottir, 2012-2016)
Tomatoes are enjoyed all over the world today but historically they have their roots in Mexico. In the 1500’s Spanish explorers brought the seeds back from Mexico to Spain and introduced it to European cultures. (Tomatoes, 2016)
Tomatoes come in many different shapes and sizes too! Cherry and grape (pictured here) ones are very popular in salads. Or grab a bunch and throw them in your lunch bag! Some are small, some are huge and some are irregularly shaped too. Whatever way you choose to enjoy them, know that tomatoes are a very affordable and nutritious super brain food.
Tomatoes. (2016, September 4). Retrieved from The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.org
Adda Bjarnadottir, M. (2012-2016). Tomatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved from Authority Nutrition: http://www.authoritynutrition.com