The Tomato

Sadly this photo is the last of my fresh tomato harvest for this season, I suppose, given that it is well into winter I am lucky to still have a few fresh fruits, I have frozen at least 10 kilos of them and made  a few dozen large jars of my favourite Italian Style Passata Sauce.

The last of this seasons tomatoes from my hot-house.

The Spanish conquistador Cortes saw them growing in the fabled gardens of Montezuma the last emperor of the Aztecs in 1520  and took them back to his homeland Spain.  Tomatoes grew wild in the Andes and were a source of nutrition to the native people of the South American continent for centuries before Europeans set eyes on them. The first tomatoes brought to Europe were most likely small yellow cherry style fruits as one of their early names poma d’oro, (gold apple) suggests.

Tomatoes were grown in Spain and Italy as an ornamental plant and were considered to be a deadly nightshade and therefore highly poisonous. The botanical name for the tomato is  Solanum lycopersicum is the same family that potatoes come from and the deadly nightshade is also a member of the Solanum family. The earliest records of tomatoes being used as a food come from Italy around 1554. The middle classes of the day ate from pewter plates, so the acidity of tomatoes leached the lead from the plates causing death, which was attributed to the humble tomato and not the fashionable pewter plates.  The general population ate from wooden plates with wooden spoons and were spared from lead poisoning.

I once worked with a botanist, who as a boy grafted and tomato plant onto a potato plant, the graft was a success and the resulting plant produced potatoes beneath the ground and tomato fruits above the ground.  Unfortunately the excitement of his experiment was dampened when his family refused to eat any of the plants harvest. I had thought it a great idea to save space in a small garden.

Tomatoes hold their nutritional value long after picking unlike most other fruits and vegetables and can be stored and preserved for long periods and still be just as nutritious as when they were first picked, they contain the vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B3, B6 and is rich in choline,  copper, fibre, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, phosphorus and tryptophan.  The tomato is a power house of vitamins, minerals and anti oxidants, its health benefits are many.

Stay tuned for a few of my favourite  and tasty tomato dishes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s