Tomatoes

Tomatoes
Tomatoes

The tomato, like the eggplant, is a member of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade family.  While tomatoes are closely associated with Italian cuisine, they are native to western South America, but cultivated in Mexico because the Mexican Indians were intrigued by this fruit since it resembled the tomatillo which was a staple in their cuisine.  With the discovery of the New World, tomato seeds were brought back to Spain, beginning the introduction of the fruit into Europe.  Tomatoes made their way to North America with the colonists who first settled in Virginia.

The tomato comes in over a thousand different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color.  Tomatoes with a deep rich color are indicative of a delicious tasting tomato, not to mention a decent dose of health-promoting lycopene.  And if those deep crevices in the tomatoes intrigue you, uneven soil moisture causes the cracks.  They may be a bit unsightly, but the tomato will still taste great!  Since tomatoes are sensitive to cold, store them at room temperature, stem up, and out of direct exposure to sunlight.

They will keep for up to a week, depending upon how ripe they were when you got them.  If the tomatoes begin to become overripe, but you are not yet ready to eat them, place them in the refrigerator (if possible, in the butter compartment which is a warmer area), where they’ll keep for one or two more days.  Removing them from the fridge about 30 minutes before using will help them to regain their maximum flavor and juiciness.  Whole tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and tomato sauce freeze well for future use in cooked dishes.

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