Tomatoes - How To Use Fresh Tomatoes - History of Tomatoes
Technically a tomato is a fruit, since it is the ripened ovary of a plant. In 1893, the supreme court ruled in the case of "NIX vs. HEDDEN" that tomatoes were to be considered vegetables.
There are more than 4,000 varieties of tomatoes, ranging from the small, marble-size cherry tomato to the giant Ponderosa that can weigh more than 3 pounds.
Go Local if possible: Tomatoes don't become more flavorful and develop adequate flavor unless allowed to ripen on the vine. They will change color and soften, but the sugar, acid, and aroma compounds are locked in once the fruit is taken off the vine. So, choose vine-ripened tomatoes, preferably locally grown, because the less the tomatoes have to travel, the more likely they were picked ripe. Seek out locally grown tomatoes whenever possible. They may not be as "pretty" as store bought, but beauty, of course, is only skin deep.
Selecting Tomatoes: Select tomatoes that are firm, glossy, smooth, plump, heavy for their size, and free of bruises. Avoid tomatoes that are overly ripe and soft.
Fragrance is a better indicator of a good tomato than color. Use your nose and smell the stem end. The stem should retain the garden aroma of the plant itself - if it doesn't, your tomato will lack flavor and, as far as I'm concerned, will be good only for decoration! Remember - If the tomato smells fresh and tomato-y, they will taste that way too!
tomatoes are summer fare and off-season tomatoes are rarely flavorful,
substitute good-quality canned Italian plum tomatoes in cooked dishes. Cook for ten
minutes to reduce the liquid and enhance the taste.
Storing Ripe Tomatoes: NEVER REFRIGERATE FRESH TOMATOES! Cold temperatures make the flesh of a tomato pulpy and destroys the flavor. Always store tomatoes at room temperature stem-end down. This prevents air from entering and moisture from exiting its scar, prolonging shelf life.
How To Ripen Green Tomatoes: To ripen,
place green tomatoes in a brown paper bag and place in a dark spot for three or four
days, depending on the degree of greenness. The bag will trap the fruit's ethylene gas and encourage ripening. Do not put tomatoes in the
sun to ripen - this softens them.
The Right Knife: A serrated knife makes slicing through the skin easier. This way you don't inadvertently mash your tomatoes when slicing. If you are using a straight blade, make sure it is very sharp.
To Seed or Not To Seed: If the seeds and skins won't be noticeable in a dish, keep them in. If you are making a smooth sauce, you can always strain out the seeds and skins later as the skins and seed will add flavor.
The flavors of a tomatoes are not just in its flesh, as the skin has a slight bitterness, while the flesh contributes the sugars and amino acids, and the jelly and juice surrounding the seeds contribute acidity. However, the seeds and surrounding jelly will contribute liquid to the dish you are using it in, which can make uncooked dishes, such as salsa, too watery. The tomato skins also have a way of curling up into tough little bits when they are cooked.
Cut them in half lengthwise, then use your fingers to scoop out the seeds. Give
the tomato a gentle squeeze to remove any stragglers. NOTE: You
can also strain out the seeds and use the liquid and jelly in
your recipe. In that case, scoop the seeds into a fine-mesh
sieve set over a bowl to catch the juices.
The simplest way to preserve tomatoes is to freeze them whole. Just rinse them, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and freeze overnight. When frozen, put them in a freezer bag and return to the freezer. To use, remove from bag and thaw. When thawed, slip the skins off, and use in your favorite recipes.
Peel the tomatoes, puree them in a blender, and then strain them through cheesecloth or a coffee filer to drain off the excess tomato water (this can be used in soups). Freeze the pulp in ice cube trays. When frozen, store the frozen cubes in a freezer bag.
Roast halved tomatoes with olive oil and herbs before freezing.
Kumato tomatoes differ from the traditional red tomato in color and taste. The color of a Kumato tomato varies from a dark brown to a golden green color. They are also sweeter (contain a higher brix) than normal tomatoes with a more intense flavour and are juicy with a firm texture. These tomatoes are edible in all different color growth stages. Perfect to serve in salads and other tomato based recipes. Kumato tomatoes are not genetically modified, they were developed through traditional plant breeding techniques and natural cultivation methods.
Where can I find Kumatos: It’s common to find Kumatos produced and distributed in Western Europe, Australia and now Kumatos are starting to be produced in Mexico. Kumatos can now be found in high-end or health-food grocery stores in the US.
Origins of the Kumato Tomato: The actual name of the tomato variety which originated in Spain is called “Olmeca”. Kumato is the trade name. In Canada, this variety is also known as Rosso Bruno.
How should Kumato tomatoes be stored: All Kumato tomatoes are vine-riped and picked when ready to eat. They can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks after they are picked. It is not recommended to refrigerate, or they will lose their natural sweetness. Once the Kumatos are sliced, they should then be refrigerated in a sealed container.
Can I get seeds to grow Kumato tomatoes: Seeds cannot be purchased by the general public. The Syngenta Corporation keeps tight control over distribution of the seeds to select licensed growers who follow
strict cultivation guidelines. “As Kumato is a hybrid tomato, planted seeds will not grow plants identical to the parent.”
There is speculation out there on the internet that this variety is not a hybrid at all but a open
pollinated variety that can be grown from the parent seed. Grower’s claim that Syngenta
publicized this variety as a hybrid to deter
home gardeners from trying to grow this variety. Many home growers are claiming that the seeds from the parent plant are growing true
to form and taste. You can try drying the seeds from Kumato’s, grow for yourself and be your own judge.
Contrary to popular belief, tomatoes have been grown as a food since the 16th century, though they have in various times and places been regarded as both poisonous and decorative plants.
The Italian name for the tomato is pomodoro, meaning "apple of love" or "golden apple," because the first to reach Europe were yellow varieties.
Tomatoes were not cultivated in North America until the 1700s, and then only in home gardens. In colonial America (1620-1763), tomatoes were thought to be poisonous and were grown as an ornamental plant called the "love apple." The odor of the leaves made people think it was poisonous. Thomas Jefferson was raising tomatoes by 1782. Most people of that century paid little attention to tomatoes. Only in the next century did they make their way into American cookbooks, always with instructions that they be cooked for at least three hours or else they "will not lose their raw taste."
1809 - According to the article from The Thomas Jefferson Society called Thomas Jefferson's Favorite Vegetables by Peter J. Hatch regarding Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States:
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