The first ripe tomatoes of the season are eagerly anticipated by cooks and gardeners alike. An excellent source of antioxidants and dietary fiber, they also offer us high levels of vitamin A and potassium, and are a good source of vitamin C. They can be baked, broiled, grilled, sauteed, . . . or just eaten raw!
To store, keep tomatoes at room temperature for up to one week. Do not refrigerate. To ripen underripe tomatoes, store them out of the sun at 60-75 degrees. Or place them in a brown paper bag on the counter.
Tomatoes are easily frozen. Just core them, place on a cookie sheet and freeze whole. When solid, place in zip-lock freezer bags and store in the freezer. Remember to take out only as many tomatoes as needed for your recipes. Thawed tomatoes are best used only for cooking or purees. Your homemade sauces, purees, and salsa will also freeze well.
Did you know?
- Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene which is important for the health of the prostate gland in men.
- A tomato is a fruit. The confusion arose after the 1890s when the US supreme court named them a vegetable for taxation purposes. A fruit is the edible part of the plant containing seeds, a vegetable is stem, leaf or root.
- There are over 10,000 varieties of tomato, these come in a variety of colours including pink, purple, black, yellow and white.
- Did you know Heinz Tomato Ketchup has a speed limit? If the yummy sauce pours at more than 0.028mph when it’s in the Heinz Tomato Ketchup factory, it’s considered too runny and rejected!
- La Tomatina is an annual festival in Spain, where people throw 150,000 tomatoes at each other. Sounds messy!
- Tomato seedlings have been grown in space before!
- A whopping 93% of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their yards.
- It’s thought that tomatoes originated in Peru, where their Aztec name meant, “plump thing with a navel.”
- They are world’s most popular fruit. With annual production of 60 million tons, they remain the world’s most demanded and most popular fruit.
Average American eats around 24 pounds of tomato each year.
- 96% of the American processed tomato production comes from sunny California. Florida is the leader in the production and sale of fresh market tomatoes.
- Pahl Farms grows tomatoes in the greenhouse and out in the fields to extend the Tomato Season.
Roma tomatoes are in the class of plum or paste tomatoes. This variety of tomato typically has a meaty flesh, few seeds, and is less juicy than other tomatoes, which makes them ideal for salsas and cooking down into a tomato sauce or paste. Their shape is an elongated egg-shape and they grow to about 3 inches long. Bright red in appearance with smooth, thick skins, they have high sugar and acid levels.
Very high in vitamins A and C, Roma tomatoes are also a rich source of lycopene. This is a naturally occurring pigment that gives tomatoes their red coloring and doubles as a powerful antioxidant known for its anti-cancer benefits, including preventing, fighting, and repairing cell damage within the human body, and for its ability to lower cholesterol. Roma tomatoes are also a good source of iron and fiber, as well as potassium and the B vitamins, which are excellent for heart health.
Store Roma tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Use ripe firm tomatoes immediately. They also freeze well, for later use.
Are green tomatoes new to you? Wondering if they are as nutritious as the more familiar red ones? Indeed they are . . . green tomatoes contain vitamins A, C, and K, the B-complex vitamins and antioxidants, as well as iron, phosphorus, and other minerals.
Green tomatoes are most often fried, but try grilling them. You’ll find they hold up better than many of the red ones do. They can also be pickled, cooked into sauce, or baked.