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.
Though it is botanically a berry, a subset of fruit, the tomato is nutritionally categorized as 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.
Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, with Italian being the most notable. The tomato has an acidic property that is used to bring out other flavours. This same acidity makes tomatoes especially easy to preserve in home canning as tomato sauce or tomato puree. Unripe green tomatoes can also be used to make salsa, be breaded and fried, or pickled.
A plum tomato or paste tomato is a type of tomato bred for sauce and packing purposes. They are generally oval or cylindrical in shape, with significantly fewer seed compartments than standard round tomatoes (usually only two) and a generally higher solid content, making them more suitable for processing. Plum tomatoes are also sometimes favoured by cooks for use during the tomato off season, as they are generally considered more amenable to handling and are therefore available in a state closer to ripe than other supermarket tomatoes.
The most commonly available varieties are Roma VF and San Marzano (semi-determinate; a signature tomato of Italian cuisine), though there are many other varieties, such as the short season Ropreco Paste and the larger Amish Paste and Big Mama. Small plum tomatoes (similar in size to cherry tomatoes) are known as grape tomatoes.
This information is specifically for countries in the northern temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere; particularly the United Kingdom, however it should be applicable for northern USA, northern Europe, Canada, Russia, etc.
Tomatoes are at their best and in season during the following months:
July, August, September & October.
We have recently started to take delivery of a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box which has of course heightened our interest in the 5 a day fruit and vegetable regime. This simple app will show you what makes up one of your 5 a day portions of vegetables. You'll be surprised how small the quantities are in some instances. You'll be able to eat healthier and feel all the better for it.
Select a fruit or vegetable from the picker below to see what its daily portion consists of
What are you waiting for? Pick your fruit and veg now!
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned Ackee
2 Globe Artichoke hearts
7 spears of tinned asparagus
5 spears of fresh asparagus
One third of an Aubergine/Eggplant
3 heaped tablespoons of barlotti beans
3 heaped tablespoons of black-eyed beans
3 heaped tablespoons of broad beans
3 heaped tablespoons of butter beans
3 heaped tablespoons of cannellini beans
4 heaped tablespoons of French beans
3 heaped tablespoons of kidney beans
3 heaped tablespoons of pinto beans
4 heaped tablespoons of runner beans
3 heaped tablespoons of soya beans
2 handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
3 whole bottled beetroot
3 whole fresh baby beetroot
2 spears of broccoli
8 Brussels sprouts
3 heaped tablespoons of butternut squash
2 handfuls of sliced cabbage
3 heaped tablespoons of shredded cabbage
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned carrots
3 heaped tablespoons of fresh carrot slices
8 florets of cauliflower
3 sticks of celery
3 heaped tablespoons of chickpeas
One fifth of a head of Chinese leaves
Half a large courgette
5 cm (2 inch) piece of cucumber
4 heaped tablespoons of curly kale
Half a karela (bitter melon)
1 leek (white portion only)
3 tablespoons of lentils
1 cereal bowl of lettuce (mixed leaves)
1 handful of mange-tout
3 heaped tablespoons of marrow
3 tablespoons of frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons of dried mushrooms
16 medium Okra
1 medium Onion
3 heaped tablespoons of pak choi (Chinese cabbage)