See Also: Tomato Trivia; Tomato Kitchen Tips;
Currently, tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables eaten by Americans. Tomatoes are members of the fruit family, but they are served and prepared as a vegetable. This is why most people consider them a vegetable and not a fruit. They are high in vitamin C and also provide beta-carotene. The National Cancer Institute published a study that showed an association between consuming a diet rich in tomato-based foods and a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
Tomatoes contain large amounts of an antioxidant called lycopene, which may be responsible for this possible positive effect. Tomato paste and sauces contain a greater amount of lycopene, because they are more concentrated than fresh tomatoes.
There are thousands of tomato varieties. The most widely available varieties are classified in three groups: cherry, plum, and slicing tomatoes. A new sweet variety like the cherry tomato is the grape tomato, really wonderful to eat alone or in a salad.
How To Select
Cold temperatures damage tomatoes, so never buy tomatoes that are stored in a cold area. Choose plump tomatoes with smooth skins that are free from bruises, cracks, or blemishes. Depending on the variety, ripe tomatoes should be completely red or reddish-orange.
Store tomatoes at room temperature (above 55 degrees) until they have fully ripened. This will allow them to ripen properly and develop good flavor and aroma. Try to store tomatoes out of direct sunlight, because sunlight will cause them to ripen unevenly. If you must store them for a longer period of time, place them in the refrigerator. Serve them at room temperature. Chopped tomatoes can be frozen for use in sauces or other cooked dishes.
Make Tomatoes Part of Your 5 A Day
- They add wonderful color, flavor, and texture to your favorite sandwich, salad, or omelet.
- They can be enjoyed stuffed, baked, stewed, or grilled.
- Try a broiled sliced tomatoes topped with basil leaves.
- Tomatoes make an excellent base for homemade soups or sauces and especially compliment pasta dishes.
- Tomatoes combine well with just about any type of food, such as, poultry, fish, rice, pasta, as well as other vegetables.
- Combine tomatoes with other vegetables to make a tasty side dish or snack.