The tomato, a beneficial vegetable

The flagship vegetable of the summer, we love tomatoes because they delight our taste buds while doing us good. It would be really wrong to do without it when the season comes!

Basket of heirloom tomatoes
Basket of heirloom tomatoes

Tomato identity card

Fruit vegetable Solanaceae family, the tomato, its scientific name Solanum lycopersicum, is a plant native to the Peruvian Andes. It arrived in Europe in the 16th century, but it was not until the 19th century that French tables were willing to accept it; hard to reverse its reputation as an inedible and poisonous plant!

The tomato season

The tomato is a vegetable summer. In a mild and sunny climate, as in the south of France, the season starts in June and ends in October, with the help of a cold greenhouse for the start and end of the season. A French tomato produced earlier or later is a tomato produced out of season, above ground, with the help of a heated greenhouse : its taste and its ecological cost can only encourage us to forget them.

The nutritional qualities of tomatoes

Vitamins A, C, E, K, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, … the tomato is a vitamin digest and minerals beneficial for the general metabolism. It is also low in calories, and contains only a very small amount of carbohydrates. In addition, its significant share of water (94%) and fiber makes it a major food for hydration of the body and intestinal comfort. In short, a perfect vegetable to keep the figure.

As for anti-oxidants, it is not to be outdone: beta carotene and lycopene present in large quantities allow, among other things, to fight against premature aging of the skin and various chronic and degenerative health problems.

How to store tomatoes?

You should know that, 48 hours after harvesting a tomato, its vitamin C content has halved. In fact, to get the most out of all of its vitamins, it would be ideal to consume it immediately after picking it up. But not everyone has a vegetable patch at home; also, you have to know how to preserve it to preserve them as much as possible. As light and air contribute to their deterioration, it is therefore advisable to store tomatoes in airtight packaging and in a dark place; otherwise, the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, but at less than 12 ° C the taste, flavors and texture lose quality.

Eat raw or cooked tomatoes?

Raw tomatoes

Raw, with seeds and skin: this is the most suitable way to benefit from most of the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, fiber and water in tomatoes. Warning: vitamin C dissolves in water and is sensitive to oxygen: wash your organic tomatoes, if necessary, under a small filet of water, and only at the last moment. Likewise, do not prepare your tomato juice and gazpachos in advance.

Cooked tomatoes

While most anti-oxidants are sensitive or even destroyed by cooking, the lycopene concentration increases with heat.

To know : lycopene dissolves in fatty substances. Eating tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil or an avocado therefore promotes its assimilation by the body.

Attention : cooking accentuates the acidifying side of the tomato.

Choosing the right variety of tomato

“Tastes and colors, we don’t argue! “. Choosing a tomato is a matter of taste and use. To know which one is right for you, you have to taste, smell and look at: the textures (melting, crunchy, firm, juicy), the aromas (from green to smoky notes), the flavors (from acid to sweet), shapes ( round, elongated, ribbed …), the colors (red, yellow, orange, green, black …) and sizes (from cherry to giant) are really very varied in this fruit vegetable.

How to cook tomatoes?

Tomatoes are an ingredient of choice for the cook, because they allow the preparation of many recipes Thus, we will eat them:

  • as an aperitif: cocktail tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Sample recipe: Small summer baskets;

  • and salads : firm tomatoes (Cœur de boeuf, Cornue des Andes, Roma, Black plum …), high in flavor (Pineapple, Black Crimean, Rose from Bern …). Example of recipe: salad tomatoes, cucumbers, feta;

  • in pies. Sample recipe: Tomato mozzarella pie;

  • stuffed: large-caliber, firm-fleshed tomatoes (Brandywine, Cœur de boeuf, Marmande, Saint Pierre …). Example recipe: Stuffed tomatoes;

  • in soups, cold in summer, hot in winter: a mixture of tomatoes with different flavors and textures. Examples of recipes: gazpacho or oriental soup;

  • in coulis and sauces: dense-fleshed tomatoes with few seeds and water (Cœur de Bœuf, Cornue des Andes, Roma). Examples of recipes: tomato coulis, eggs with tomato.

The chef’s tips

  • How to peel (peel) tomatoes: bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the peduncle with a knife. Immerse the tomatoes one by one in boiling water for 30 seconds then immerse them in cold water. The skin will come off just by pulling on it with your fingertips.

  • How to seed tomatoes: cut them into halves or quarters and squeeze gently between your fingers to expel the pulp and seeds.

Ready to grow your own organic tomatoes?

The best way to make sure you’re eating healthy, seasonal tomatoes is to grow them !!

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Infographic – Tomatoes, a benefactor vegetable

Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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