Tomatoes first grew as wild cherry sized fruits in the South American Andes. They were grown by the Aztecs and the Incas as far back as 700 AD. But the tomato, as we know it today, originates from Mexico. Explorers coming back from Mexico introduced tomatoes to Europe in the mid 1500's. Tomato seeds were taken to the Mediterranean countries where they quickly became popular. There are now more than 7,000 varieties of tomatoes. The most widely available groups of tomatoes are cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes and the larger, more common, slicing tomato. China is now the largest producer of tomatoes.
Nutritional and health information
Eating tomatoes at least twice a week is now believed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and to be beneficial in fighting other forms of cancer. The key ingredient in tomatoes is Lycopene which is a carotenoid. In fact it is the most powerful of all the anti oxidants in the carotenoid family. Cooking tomatoes, most especially in oil, releases the Lycopene making it more available to the body. Tomato puree and tomato paste are more concentrated forms of tomato so they contain more lycopene then the equivalent weight of fresh tomatoes. Some brands of tomato sauce (tomato ketchup) contain as much as five times the lycopene contained in the equivalent weight of fresh tomatoes.
Tomatoes are also said to be good for the eyes. Lycopene is the key antioxidant that guards against ARMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration), a condition that may cause blindness.
Tomatoes also contain calcium, potassium, Vitamins A and C. Recent studies are showing a link between eating concentrated tomatoes, as in tomato paste, and an increase in the bodies capacity to protect itself against sunburn.
Tomatoes that are ripened on the vine have far more vitamin C than those that are picked green. And as if that isn't enough, tomatoes contain very few calories, they are fat-free and they contain heaps of fibre.
Uses of Tomatoes
Although they are really a fruit we tend to use tomatoes in savoury dishes. Tomatoes are used in various processed forms such as tomato paste, tomato puree and of course tinned tomatoes in juice. They are the most popular salad ingredient after lettuce and they are used in pasta sauces and tomato sauce (tomato ketchup).
Tomatoes should never been kept in the fridge. The flavour is far better when they are kept at room temperature. Consequently it is not advisable to buy tomatoes that have been stored in the shop in a chiller.
Tomato Sauce (ketchup) for bottling:
2 and 1/4 kg (5 pounds) tomatoes
350 gm (12 ounces) apples (about 3 apples)
1 and 3/4 cups white vinegar
250 gm (8 ounces) onions
1 level teaspoon white pepper
1/4 level teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 level teaspoon ground cloves
Small piece fresh ginger, about the size of the end of your thumb
1 level teaspoon allspice or mixed spice
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 level tablespoons salt
2 cups sugar
Core the apples but don't peel them. Roughly cut up apples, tomatoes and onions and place in large pot with remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, stirring now and then. Boil for an hour ensuring that you stir more frequently as the sauce thickens.
Blend till smooth with a Bamix (hand held blender stick). Carefully pour into hot bottles. Seal whilst hot.
Sweet and Sour Salad:
1 small lettuce rinsed and torn apart
2 celery stalks, cut diagonally
1 small red onion, cut into rings
450 gm (1 pound) can of pineapple pieces with no sugar added
250 gm (8 ounces) punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tart Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can mandarin segments
1/2 cup of roasted, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup of bottled salad dressing
Toss apple slices in lemon juice, coat well. Add everything else except the last two ingredients. Toss well and chill until needed. Just before serving add cashews and dressing, toss well.
Many more recipes can easily be found on my website 'On A Budget?'.
About The Author:
Jean Morrison is, by day, the owner of Heritage Ceilings(http://www.heritageceilings.com.au) and, after hours,
'On A Budget' (http://www.cheap-and-easy-recipes.com) a website for sensible people who want to be more self-sufficient and healthy.
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Was established in2005，has more than 15 years experience in plastic toys production, is a professional manufacturer who specialized in research, development, design, production and marketing high quality plastic toys.