The tomato is native to northwestern South America, between the Andes and the Pacific. Various species grow spontaneously, including the cherry tomato.
It was probably domesticated in Mexico, having migrated from Peru with migratory birds. In any case, that was where it was discovered by the Spanish conquistadors in the 15th century. Its name comes from the Inca word tomalt.
It was first cultivated in the Caribbean and the Philippines. From there, it moved across to Asia.
The tomato arrived in Europe a century later, first in Spain and then in Naples, where it was baptized pomodoro, or golden apple, before reaching England in the late 16th century.
It was widely regarded as a poisonous plant and so no one dared to taste its fruits.
It was not until the 18th century that tomatoes began to be eaten, first in Provence. Then it was taken from Provence to Paris to celebrate the Fête de la Fédération on 14 July 1790, where it lost its bad reputation. Parisian gardeners began to cultivate the tomato, and the rest of France soon followed suit. It gradually caught on in the rest of Europe.
In the United States, the cultivation of the tomato, which had arrived from the Caribbean, also started in the 18th century, in Florida and California.
A good tomato is not necessarily uniform in shape.
Seasonal produce grown in the field by small producers will always be the best. They can be bought at market or directly from the producers.
Apart from fresh tomatoes, there are also sun-dried tomatoes and/or tomatoes packed in oil, canned (in juice, peeled, chopped), concentrate (canned), frozen, quartered or diced, in juice, made into jam (green tomato), chutney, or a condiment (Ketchup).
Before use, tomatoes should be washed, and the stalk removed. The skin and seeds can then be removed.
Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked.
They have an infinite number of uses: tomatoes can be turned into sauces, hot and cold soups, and coulis; they can be fried, grilled, mixed with other vegetables, stuffed, or made into gratins; they can be added to an omelet, used as a flavoring, used to garnish meat, poultry, or fish, added to a quiche or pie, used as a pizza topping, added as decoration, sweetened for a dessert, or made into sorbet or jam.
It can be transformed into juice and drunk. Dried, it becomes a condiment.
Tomatoes can be stored at room temperature, but in a cool place. Refrigeration damages their flavor and texture.
Low in calories, tomatoes are rich in various antioxidants (carotenes, vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene, and polyphenols) that protect against cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Their acidity can make them unpalatable to some, especially when they are not peeled.
- Red and pink tomatoes
Corrogo: red, flattened and with deep ridges, firm flesh, and a mild flavor
Thai Pink: dark-pink smooth skin, oblong and dense, with sweet flesh
Marmande: red and round, very sweet, and fragrant
Zapata Pleated: pink, with ridges, from Mexico
Beefsteak: pink to red, firm and juicy, very fruity. The Japanese beefsteak tomato produces very large fruit up to 500 g.
Roma: red, small, and oblong (plum)
Black Cherry: very dark red, small and round (cherry tomato), flavorful without acidity
- Orange and yellow tomatoes
Yellow cœur de pigeon: lemon yellow, small, and firm
Orange Strawberry: ribbed and heart-shaped, quite dry, and does not produce too much water
Yellow pear: smooth, yellow, shape of a small pear, sweet
- Elongated tomatoes
Cornue des Andes: bright red, very elongated, firm, only slightly juicy
Saint-Mar: red, bumpy, very elongated, firm, and fruity
Opalska: smooth, red, elongated and rather large, slightly sweet, juicy
- Green variegated tomatoes
Pineapple: orange-red, pineapple-like flesh
Green Zebra: striped with a beautiful pure green, a good sweet-sour balance
- Black and white tomatoes
Black Krim: red-brown, smooth, juicy, and mild
Blanche d’Anvers: creamy white, juicy, and fruity
Depending on the variety, tomatoes are on the market from May through November.