Thursday, June 3, 2010


Botanically, tomatoes (solanum lycopersicum) are fruits, however because they have a lower sugar content and higher acidity than most other fruits, for culinary purposes they are considered vegetables. After all, we are most likely to serve them as part of a salad or cooked in the main course of the meal, we don’t eat them with whipped cream or custard.

Tomatoes grow on sprawling, somewhat untidy bushes, and they are part of the nightshade family. The leaves, stems and unripe fruits contain a poisonous alkaloid, tomatine, but the amount is so small that it is not generally considered dangerous. In 16th century Britain, when tomatoes were a fairly recent addition to the menu, they were considered poisonous. But in reality the acidity of the tomatoes leached lead out of the pewter plates in use at the time.

100gm of tomatoes contains approximately 75kj (18kcal), 4gm of carbohydrate, 2.6gm natural sugar, 1gm of fibre and 1gm of protein. Tomatoes also supply us with Vitamins K, B5, and C, plus lycopene which is an anti-oxidant said to be beneficial against some types of cancer.

Based on the 2008 figures, China is the world’s largest commercial producer of tomatoes (25%), followed by the United States (9%), Turkey (8.5%), India (8%) and Italy(4.6%).

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