Summer Tomatoes

 

I thought I was a rare bird, one who gets excited about fresh produce, but my husband gets just as excited, which makes grocery shopping together a lot of fun.

Both of us love tomatoes, especially Peter, he likes to eat them every day with practically every meal. We were eager to grow our own so we could enjoy fresh-from-the-garden summer tomatoes right from our own backyard. We dug up the earth and buried seeds against the advise from those who claimed tomatoes don’t grow well here. They were right it seems. Our tomato plants didn’t do well at all. We only had a few half-way decent tomatoes and many tiny cherry tomatoes. Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.

 

So our tomato fix comes from famer’s markets, Whole Foods store, our local health food store, and the organic section of the grocery store near us. We’re like two wide-eyed kids when we see all the gorgeous varieties of tomatoes on display.

A tomato is not just a tomato; it is something special and has magnificence. I love the way the Europeans romanticize tomatoes through the name they give it. In Peter’s country, the Hungarians call tomatoes paradicsom meaning paradise, the French call it pomme d’amour, meaning love apple, and the Italians call it pomodoro meaning golden apple. Americans, well, we certainly aren’t as lyrical, but depending on what part of the country you’re from, one might say tuh-MA-to, and another tuh-MAH-to.

 

Varieties of Tomatoes

There are more than 1,000 varieties of tomatoes grown in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Sizes and shapes vary from small cherry tomatoes to big beautiful heirloom tomatoes. You’ll find a colorful assortment from shades of red, green, orange, yellow, purple, and there are even stripped tomatoes too. As for flavor, they generally have a subtle sweetness mixed with a subtle bitter-acidic taste, though some tomatoes are much sweeter than others.

Some varieties of tomatoes

Cherry – tasty little one-inch tomatoes come in a variety of colors.
Cluster – red, yellow, orange tomatoes [5-6] solid on the vine.
Heirloom – cultivars of tomatoes handed down from generation that come in many varieties.
Roma – firm smooth-skinned, pink to red in color.

 

Nutritional Profile and Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a delicious and health-giving food that is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, making the beneficial fruits for the cardiovascular system, and some form of cancer. It is rich in potassium and contains low levels of sodium, which makes it helpful with high blood pressure and fluid retention issues.

Nutrients found in tomatoes

Beta-carotene | Calcium | Carbohydrates | Chromium | Cooper | Dietary Fiber | Iron | Lycopene | Magnesium | Manganese | Molybedenum | Potassium | Protein | Tryptophan | Vitamin A | Vitamin B1 [thiamin] | Vitamin B2 [riboflavin] | Vitamin B3 [niacin] | Vitamin B5 [pantothenic acid] | Vitamin B6 [pyridoxine] | Vitmain B7 [biotin] | Vitamin B9 [folate-folic acid] | Vitamin C | Vitamin E | Vitamin K

 

Selecting and Storing Summer Tomatoes

As a general rule and depending in variety, the best tomatoes have a bright or deep rich color, are well shaped, plump, have a sweet fragrance, smooth skin, and yield to slight pressure, with no soft spots, wrinkles, bruises, cracks, or decay marks.

Store tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Depending on how ripe they are, they should keep in this condition up to a week.

If you need unripe or not ripe enough tomatoes to ripen quickly, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple. The ethylene gas emitted from these fruits helps speed up ripening the tomato.

If you have overripe tomatoes, store them anywhere in the door compartment of a refrigerator. When ready to use allow the tomato to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This helps to regain the tomatoes maximum flavor and juiciness.

Tomatoes in any form [whole, chopped, or pureed] freeze well.

Serving Suggestions And Recipes

  • Stuff cherry tomatoes to make as an appetizer.
  • Make a tomato platter with sliced tomatoes topped shredded basil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with pine nuts.
  • Puree tomatoes in a blender to make a soup.
  • Sprinkle dice tomatoes in soups and salads.
  • Add a tomato to your next vegetable drink or make fresh home-made tomato juice.
  • Make a big batch of tomato salsa

Speak Your Mind

*