One of Farmer Tim's favorite crops! In the summertime, we eat tomatoes at nearly every lunch and dinner. A quartered tomato sprinkled with salt will show up at some point during the day as a snack, and tomato-cucumber salad is a cool, easy, and delicious addition to dinner.
Store tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Temperatures below 52 degrees will lessen flavor and quality. To ripen tomatoes, place in a paper bag and leave at room temperature over night.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops for preserving. They do well in the freezer in just about any form - raw, roasted, and as sauce or soup, for example.
Our family puts up over 100 jars of 'stewed' tomatoes each summer to enjoy all winter long in a variety of recipes. Our recipe is a simple one, requiring tomatoes, a little salt, a little sugar, and a little lemon juice to balance the PH just right. Tomatoes can also be jarred up as salsae, sauces, relishes, or pickled. Dried tomatoes are another way to preserve this fruit.
Tomatoes are enjoyed raw on sandwiches, salads, in sauces, soups, and salsas, and as juice.
Tomato sauces are a very popular way of getting kids to eat a serving of vegetables since so many children enjoy ketchup, pizza, or spaghetti.
Roasting tomatoes is a great way to concentrate that wonderful sweet, acidic, flavor.
Tomatoes are native to South America, originally appearing as small fruits on viny, aggressive plants. The word tomato comes from the Aztec word tomatl. Cortez is credited with delivering tomatoes to the rest of the world, bringing them along when he returned from his exploits in South America.
Like potatoes, tomatoes are a member of the night shade family. This connection was discovered in the 16th century, and put a lot of people off trying tomatoes – for about a century tomatoes were grown as decoration instead of food. Colonial Americans were particularly stubborn about avoiding them, convinced the fruit was poisonous. Thomas Jefferson, an agricultural and epicurean pioneer, grew several varieties of tomatoes and served them at his famous feasts, when most of the country was convinced eating a tomato would burst their appendix. Eventually they caught on, and the USA is now second in the world in tomato production!
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are a very good source of potassium, vitamin B6, folate, dietary fiber, and manganese.