Sep 30, 2007

Tomato World's Most Popular Fruit

The tomato is the world's most popular fruit. And yes, just like the eggplant and the pumpkin, botanically speaking it is a fruit, not a vegetable. Since "vegetable" is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in a plant part being a fruit botanically while still being considered a vegetable.

More than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced per year, 16 million tons more than the second most popular fruit, the banana. Apples are the third most popular (36 million tons), then oranges (34 million tons) and watermelons (22 million tons).

Tomatoes were first cultivated in 700 AD by Aztecs and Incas. Explorers returning from Mexico introduced the tomato into Europe, where it was first mentioned in 1556. The French called it "the apple of love," the Germans "the apple of paradise."

Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other things. Lycopene, one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, is present in tomatoes, and, especially when tomatoes are cooked, has been found beneficial in preventing prostate cancer. However, other research contradicts this claim. Tomato extract branded as Lycomato is now also being promoted for treatment of high blood pressure.

Tomatoes are delicious raw, sautéed, grilled, stewed, and added to many preparations. Use a serrated knife or very sharp non-serrated knife to slice or chop tomatoes or prick the skin to get a slice going.

To peel tomatoes, blanch by dropping them into boiling water for about 30 seconds, or longer for firm tomatoes, then plunge into a bowl of ice water until cool enough to handle. Cut an X on the stem end and use a paring knife to pull skin away.

Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C and fibre, and are cholesterol free. An average size tomato (148 gram, or 5 oz) boasts only 35 calories.

Festive Tomato Wedges

6 Tomatoes; cut in wedges
2/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup White wine vinegar
1/4 cup Chopped green onions
1 Clove garlic; minced
2 tablespoon Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dill weed
1 teaspoon Dried basil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Dried marjoram
1/4 cup Snipped fresh parsley

Arrange the tomato wedges in a circle on a platter
In a food processor pour the oil onions garlic dill, basil, and majoram.
Pulse until smooth.
Add the vinegar, salt, pepper and mayonnaise, pulse again.
Pour over tomatoes and toss gently.
Add the parsley, chill until ready to serve.

12 Servings

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