Tomato is well known and highly nutritious compared to other vegetables. They are rich in lycopene, the carotenoid pigment that turns tomatoes to red which neutralizes free radicals before they can cause any damage. Therefore they can prevent everything from wrinkles to heart attacks. Studies indicate that lycopene have twice the anti-carcinogenic effect than that of beta-carotene. They may help to prevent some forms of cancer by lessening the damage caused by free radicals.
They also contain a little iron, which is well absorbed by the body when accompanied by vitamin C and prevents anemia and fatigue.
Because of its easy availability and relatively low cost it is included in the daily diet.
BOTANICAL NAME – Lycopersicon esculentum
FAMILY NAME – Solanaceae
This plant has vigorous tap root, extensive fibrous roots, and solid, hairy stems. It has spirally arranged oval leaves. The fruit is fleshy, round or lobed, smooth, red, yellow in color with flat seeds. It has a firm flesh and a uniform color with no blemishes, wrinkles or cracks. It should weigh heavy in the hand. Light puffy tomatoes usually have a poor texture and taste.
It is a native of South America. Originally from Peru, the tomato was considered poisonous till the 18th century. From there it was brought to Europe. During sixteenth century Spanish explorers introduced this vegetable into Europe and later Portuguese brought this to India. It is very popularly grown throughout India and it ranks the largest crop after potato and sweet potato.
Now it is a popular vegetable and is available in the market worldwide. It is grown everywhere in America, Africa, India, and China.
From January to December
It is a warm season crop it takes about 5 - 7 weeks from blooming to ripening. For proper ripening and high yield it needs sunny weather. Heavy rainfall is not suitable. It is available in the market through out the year.
BEST VALUE –
From November to February
PARTS USED –
Fruits and leaves
Read about the Medicinal Uses and Benefits of Tomato here…..
Nearly 100 years back, this fruit was considered poisonous. It was known as acid forming food which might increase blood and tissue acidity. So persons having acidity, gout, rheumatism and arthritis were advised to avoid its use. But as per the latest studies in nutritional chemistry, these ideas are baseless.
It's role in stone formations is controversial. There is a general belief that its consumption may result in the formation of bladder stones and that tomato may not be suitable for those who suffer from a tendency to gout or uric acid diseases. Oxalic acid and purine are the substances generally known to be associated with bladder stone formation. Biochemical analysis of has shown that it contains around 4mg of oxalic acid per 100 gm of fruit. Oxalic acid and purine content of is less or comparable to many of the other vegetables. It contains less purines than do carrots, potatoes, cabbages and other vegetables and less oxalic acid than do beets potatoes, cucumber and lettuce.
PREPARATION TIPS AND USAGE -
It should be rinsed and dried and can be halved, quartered or sliced. The skin should be removed only if necessary and can be done by plunging into boiling water. This can be cooked or used raw as a vegetable and used in salads, sauces or juices. It can be diced or crushed and used to season stocks. It blends well with seasonings like garlic, basil and tarragon. It may accompany fish, veal, poultry, tuna, beef, and eggs.
It can be used raw, or in the preparation of soup, salads, ketchup, chutney and for making juice.
They should be stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight to allow for natural ripening. If not used within 5 days, it should be stored in the refrigerator for 5 more days.
Read about the Nutritional Value of Tomato in the next article....
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