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Round and juicy, reminiscent of summer and bright dishes. This essential ingredient of Italian cooking is one of the most popular vegetables - although it is in fact a fruit!
A summer fruit
The tomato is known a summer fruit so it’s not surprising that it originates from Central America, particularly in Mexico. It turned up in Italy in the 16th century and soon spread to the rest of Europe.
As it needs heat and sun to ripen and gain flavour, the tomato is in season from August to September, after the summer heat. Today it is cultivated in greenhouses almost all year long, but it’s difficult to find the richness of its original taste out of season. Tomato leaves and branches of tomatoes are toxic, so don't eat them or try and cultivate them!
Packed with in vitamins
Composed of 90% of water and low in calories (18 calories per 100g), tomatoes are healthy thanks to their abundance of minerals and vitamins: potassium, lycopene (an anti-ageing antioxidant pigment), Vitamins A, C and E.
To take advantage of all the benefits, enjoy tomatoes raw (for the vitamins) or cooked. Lycopene is much more present in cooked tomato than raw tomato, so there's no reason not to enjoy ratatouille and tomato sauce!
There’s no exact science, but if you buy tomatoes in season and ripe you shouldn't go far wrong. Very few fruits ripen after you pick them. A ripe tomato has soft flesh (but not too soft or it is over ripe). It should be smooth and unmarked. Make sure that tomatoes on the vine are well attached to the branches, which should be green and fresh. You can find yellow, green and orange tomatoes in addition to red ones.
Tomatoes like heat, but not cold. Don't put them in the fridge: this makes them lose their flavour. Keep them at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
- To peel a tomato (they peel naturally during cooking), make an incision in the shape of a cross, place the tomato in boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds then in iced water for a few seconds. The skin should fall off all by itself.
- Tomatoes contain sapoline, a bitter substance that many people cannot digest and is found mainly in the skin.
Take a look at our tomato recipes.
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