Tomato – Solanum lycopersicum

Roma Tomatoes
Roma Tomatoes

How do I love thee, tomato? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and might
My palate can reach, when remembering out of sight
Your peak month of August, when you bear fruits of juicy Grace.

Unknown

The first tomato under cultivation was in Mexico by the Aztecs; tomatoes reached Europe with Columbus after his trip to the mouth of the Orinoco River where he first found them. In Europe the tomato became a bit of a fascination since it was believed to be an aphrodisiac!

 

But in North America the tomato was believed to be poisonous. It was a member of the Nightshade family and as such a member it was poisonous! This belief held true until 1820 when Col. Robert G. Johnson ate one on the steps of the Boston courthouse. Hundreds had turned out to watch him die after consuming it. But to their surprise he lived!

 

Today we know that tomatoes are a great source for Vitamins A, C, and E and also a source beta-carotene, as well as the carotenoid lycopene. Lycopene is the reason the fruit is red, recent research has shown the lycopene in tomatoes and other foods may help fight certain types of cancer. Lycopene is one of the most powerful, natural anti-oxidants which has been found to be helpful in the prevention of prostate cancer. This benefit seems to increase with the cooking of the tomatoes.

 

“Rich in vital nutrients, tomatoes are valuable in a heart-healthy and cancer-preventing diet. These are also high in potassium and low in sodium, which helps combat high BP and fluid retention. Eating tomatoes with avocados, nuts or olive oil is a healthy habit as lycopene is liposoluble (i.e., it is absorbed into the body only along with fats). Also, tomatoes are a low calorie weight loss food,” quoting Garima Sancheti’s post on Facebook on 6-18-11.

Tomatoes also aid in liver function, cleanse the body of toxins, aids the digestion of fatty foods, increases health of the circulatory system, increases the skins ability to protect itself from UV rays, and is being promoted for the treatment of high blood pressure.

 

The myth of toxicity wasn’t all wrong though…alkaloids are present in all the green parts of the plant and consumption can cause lethargy, vomiting, difficult breathing, prostration, and either constipation or diarrhea! Grazing animals should never be allowed near them. The smell of the leaves should be a signal to warn you of the toxicity…they stink!

 

You might want to try a simple little recipe for tomatoes and string beans I invented

 

Italian Beans

 

String beans, snapped, destringed, cleaned and in the amount you need for your family

 (I use 2 cups fresh string beans)

Olive oil

Tomato, deseeded, cleaned, and diced

Italian seasoning (to taste)

Bacon, diced up and fried crisp (set aside)

Grated parmesan

 

Sautee your string beans in olive oil until they are the tenderness you like

Add the tomatoes, seasonings and bacon

Toss all about two- five minutes allowing the tomatoes to heat

Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve hot. Enjoy!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for this really interesting post about tomatoes.
    Here a wonderful recipe I was given many years ago, which makes a DELICIOUS pickle. If you have a surplus this summer you might like to try it.

    Tomato Oil Pickle
    1½ Tbsp Black Mustard seeds
    1½ cups malt vinegar
    ¾ cups chopped Root Ginger
    20 Garlic cloves
    20 fresh hot green Chilli’s (*handle with gloves on!!!)
    2 kg tomatoes
    1¼ cups olive oil
    1½ Tbsp Turmeric
    4 Tbsp ground Cumin
    1 cup Sugar
    1 Tbsp Chilli Powder

    Soak mustard seeds overnight in vinegar covered with Tea towel, next day grind in a mortar and pestle. Add Root ginger and Garlic to mustard puree. Remove seeds from Chilli, cut lengthways. Chop tomatoes. Heat oil, add Turmeric, Cumin and Chilli powder and fry, add everything else – bring to the boil. Cook gently until it forms a pulp, oil.should float on top (about 1 hour).
    Cool, and put into clean jars.

    *The first time I made this fabulous pickle, I disregarded this warning. I had numbed fingertips for a day! That’s the Substance P at work.

    If you want it thicker, then use about 1 Tbsp of cornflour/flour/your preferred thickening agent, mix it to a paste with a little cold vinegar and stir into the pickle mix, stirring constantly until it reaches the consistency you like.

    This next recipe id the best Tomato relish recipe i have ever used. I can’t say that I prefer it to the oil pickle, as they are quite different, maybe make both ans find out for yourself?!?

    Tomato Relish (Edmonds Book)
    12 large tomatoes (peeled)
    4 large onions
    1 handful salt
    1 pound brown sugar
    Vinegar
    1 Tablespoon mustard
    1 Tablespoon curry powder
    2 heaped tablespoons flour
    5 chillies

    Cut tomatoes and onions into four or more pieces. Sprinkle with salt and leave overnight.
    Next day, pour off liquid, put tomato and onion into a preserving pan with sugar and chillies. Add enough vinegar to cover.
    Bring to the boil. Simmer 1½ hours.
    Mix flour, curry powder and mustard to a smooth paste with a little cold vinegar. Add to mixture and boil 5 minutes.
    Put into sterilised jars and cover when cold.

    Bon apetito!

    Reply

  2. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
    again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    Reply

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