Tomato, The Queen of Vegetables

In my home tomatoes are one type of vegetable we can’t do without.  We eat them raw, cooked, chopped, sliced, and whatever other way there is to ingest them.  We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for snacks when there is no meal on the table.

The food literature I’ve been reading tells me that tomatoes originally came from Peru.  It is believed, although no one is sure, that they went back to Europe on one of Christopher Columbus’ ships during one of his trips following his first landing in the Caribbean.

Tomatoes are high in nutritional value no matter what their color.  They are high in vitamin C, B vitamins, Beta Carotene, and several anti cancer components.  Some scientists give tomatoes credit for the low rate of prostate cancer in Italy.

When you tomatoes, try to buy the vine-ripened tomatoes.  Most supermarket tomatoes are shipped long distance. To compensate for the shipping delays, tomatoes picked green, then zapped with methane gas to turn red, after which they are offered to us in the market.  To paraphrase Billy Crystal, they look marvelous, but they don’t taste very marvelous.  But, as you know the best ones are the one from your garden or at the local Farmers’ Market.

Refrigerating tomatoes takes away the flavor.It’s much better to let them sit on the counter, even if there is a danger of over-ripening.  One other hint: If you are making pasta sauce from from tomatoes, be sure to squeeze out the seeds, as they make the sauce bitter.  Some people like to remove the skin before making tomato sauce. I prefer to leave it on.  If you want to remove the skin, the easiest method is the dump the tomato in boiling water for one or two minutes and it will peel right off.

Before refrigeration was invented, many cultures invented ingenious ways to preserve tomatoes.  In Latin America salsa became the way to preserve.  In the Mediterranean, drying tomato slices in the sun, or making tomato paste was an the way to go.

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