The fruit that conquered the global palate

Originally from South America, tomatoes arrived in Europe in the 16th century during the Age of Discoveries. It soon became an indispensable ingredient for many countries, especially Mediterranean ones.

Today, the tomato has gone global and is available in almost every kitchen. There are over 10,000 known varieties.

Despite being seen and consumed as a vegetable, the tomato is a fruit. It stems from a plant (the tomato plant) and has seeds. And like tomatoes, other fruits are often considered vegetables, although technically, they are not. Such is the case with aubergines, courgettes, cucumbers and pepper, to name a few.

The tomato benefits

Tomatoes are a source of nutrients and have a low-calorie count of just 19 kcal per 100 g. In the average Mediterranean diet, the tomato is the largest source of lycopene, a powerful protective antioxidant responsible for its red colour. This fruit also contains vitamin C.

Because of their health benefits, tomatoes should be eaten regularly. Vitamin C regulates the immune system, ensures normal psychological function, reduces fatigue, and protects the cells against undesirable oxidations while increasing iron absorption.

Main types of tomatoes

Tomatoes are available in different shapes, colours and sizes. Whether in soups, salads, juices, sweets or sauces, tomato is a versatile food that can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. These are some of the most common types of tomatoes.

Plum (or elongated) tomatoes.
  • Plum tomato

    Also known as the elongated tomato because of its oval shape, this type of tomato has few seeds and a very reddish colour; despite being widely used in salads, it is also perfect for drying and conserving.

Beefsteak tomatoes.
  • Beefsteak tomatoes

    Beefsteak tomatoes are large, rounded, slightly flattened, and have a “beefy” and firm texture. With few seeds, fine peel and a meaty and tasty pulp, this tomato is perfect for a salad.

Wooden tray with cherry tomatoes.
  • Cherry tomatoes

    Cherry or cocktail tomatoes are small, usually under 40 mm in diameter. They have a sweet flavour and are primarily used in salads and snacks.

Tomatoes with leaves.
  • Tomatoes with leaves

    Tomatoes with leaves are the most common in supermarkets. They take longer to ripen and develop a more intense flavour.

Round tomatoes.
  • Round tomato

    Round tomatoes are widely used in sauces, such as ketchup. It is a sweeter tomato type, making it an excellent choice for sweets and jams.

Tomatoes can also be stored for a long time. They are also perfect for homemade pickles.

Where does the colour of the tomato come from?

Tomatoes are mostly water (about 94%), carbohydrates and fibre (about 4%) and other macronutrients. Lycopene (a carotenoid substance) is responsible for its colours, ranging from yellow to orange, green and red.

How to plant tomatoes?

After reading this article, we believe you are already in the mood to come and harvest fruit to put in the salad. When autumn comes, follow these seven steps to have a tomato plant at home.

  1. Place two to three tomato seeds in a small container, buried one centimetre deep;
  2. Water daily and according to outside temperature; on warm days, do it more frequently than when it is rainy or colder;
  3. When the plant is already five to six centimetres high and sprouts, transfer it to a larger pot (you can also place it on the ground) without damaging its roots; fertilize the soil but keep the moisture low and protect it from direct sunlight on very hot days;
  4. The tomato plants should be between 45 and 90 centimetres apart from each other and place stakes around each foot so that the tomato plant has somewhere to lean;
  5. Ensure that the tomato plant receives direct sunlight between 6 and 8 hours a day;
  6. Water every 7 to 10 days in the first week after the transfer; the soil must be moist but not soaked–excess water can be fatal for tomatoes;
  7. Place a scarecrow –a doll acting as a scarecrow will ward off any birds from your vegetable garden.

Learn how to make a vegetable garden with aromatic herbs at home.

Wooden bowl with homemade tomato sauce, and several whole and sliced tomatoes spread on a kitchen cloth.

Homemade tomato sauce recipe

Try this recipe for tasty tomato sauce and make healthy pizzas taste even better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of tomatoes
  • 3 spoons of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Oregano
  • Salt (1/2 soup spoon)
  • Pepper

Preparation:

  • Peel off the tomato and remove the seeds; chop into small cubes.
  • In a non-stick frying pan, place the olive oil, chopped garlic, sliced tomatoes and oregano.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Squash the tomatoes with a fork and fry for 20 minutes on low heat.
  • Poor over the pizza dough. You can store the sauce in the fridge for a week or freeze it for up to three months.

Pro Tip: Choose tomatoes with leaves or plum, preferably of live colour – indicating they are ripe.