Sensual, pleasurable and healthy!
Timothy Hennessy, RHN, RNCP
You say "tomayto," I say "tomahto"... Say it any way you like, biting into a ripe, just-picked organic tomato, still warm from the sun, is one of life's true pleasures.
You say “tomayto,” I say “tomahto”... Say it any way you like, biting into a ripe, just-picked organic tomato, still warm from the sun, is one of life’s true pleasures.
Add in its health benefits—1 cup (250 mL) offers over 50 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C and 20 percent of vitamin A in its natural beta carotene form. Add in a rich dose of antioxidant lycopene with its anticancer and heart-friendly benefits, and you have a winner in your hand!
A member of the nightshade family, the tomato was once avoided as a foodstuff because of its resemblance to the poisonous deadly nightshade plant. Credit the Italians for embracing the tomato as a popular food; their name pommi dei mori was changed by the French to pomme d’amour, or “love apple,” since many regarded it and other New World foods as aphrodisiacs.
How to choose
July through September is the season for ripe organic tomatoes. Visit farmers’ markets or buy right from the farm stand.
Heirloom tomatoes embrace a variety of shapes, colours, and flavours that are as fascinating as they are delicious. Look for firm, scented, heavy in the hand, brightly coloured fruit and avoid overly green, hard, or too-soft ones. Watch out for black discoloration (a sign of fungal rot or blight) and splits in the skin, often a sign of overwatering.
Store at room temperature for up to 5 days once ripe. Don’t refrigerate as this will reduce flavour and damage the texture of the flesh.
How to use
Tomatoes contain an intriguing and unique mix of sweet and acidic components. To retain all of these flavour compounds use tomatoes in their whole form. Use a food mill to remove skin and seeds from a sauce after it is finished cooking, if that’s your preference.
If time constraints will not allow you to make and preserve tomato sauce, bag your tomatoes whole and freeze them. Their texture will be mushy when thawed, but this is fine for use in cooking.