April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN
It’s very hot this year, which means tomatoes will soon be running amok in my garden and kitchen. Which sounds funny if you know me–I don’t love tomatoes and will pluck them off my plate–unless they are fresh or the sauce comes from tomatoes that I know ripened here and now. It’s a first world burden that comes from having a large garden with fresh tomatoes since I was little. I love growing the colorful little gems in my garden, and their flavor is truly different fresh off the plant.
Fruit or vegetable?
Fruit. Tomatoes have of habit of hanging out in both the vegetable and fruit category in stores, garden centers and cookbooks, but to be botanically correct–they are a fruit. Yes, just take a look at those slippery seed clusters that reveal their true identity. Like other fruits, they develop from the ovaries of flowers. However, they are most often listed in the vegetable category as they don’t share the sweetness and high sugar content of other fruits.
A little tomato history
Native to South America and Central America, the Aztecs had been eating tomatls for centuries, long before the Spaniards showed up in Central America. History tends to credit Cortez with the discovery of tomatoes in 1519 when he found them growing in Montezuma’s gardens. He returned to Europe triumphantly with his new seeds. The first tomatoes to arrive in Europe were likely small and yellow in color, as the Italians and Spanish refer to them as pomi d’oro (yellow apples). However, the Europeans were skeptical of the shiny new food, assuming them poisonous, and planted the tomatoes as ornamentals. The French botanists, Tournefort, would […]