The tomato is known to have been cultivated as a food crop by the Incan civilization, but was believed to be poisonous by many other cultures across the world. In the 1500’s tomatoes were grown as an ornamental plant.
In the early 19th century, businessmen realized the great potential of the tomato as a food crop and would eat them in public to prove their safety and goodness. The earliest tomato ketchup recipe was in 1818.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and, unusually, they retain the vitamin C after cooking. Research has shown that people with a higher intake of tomatoes in their diet are at a lower risk of developing certain cancers.
Tomatoes are low in sodium and high in minerals. They are also rich in vitamin A and low in calories.
Try this simple but very tasty tomato treat
Parmesan baked Tomatoes
Fairly firm tomatoes
Grated parmesan cheese
A handful of fresh chopped basil
A little cooking oil
1. Preheat oven to gas mark 4 (350F, 180C)
2. Pour a little cooking oil in an ovenproof dish and heat for a couple of minutes in the oven
3. Cut tomatoes in half and place, cut side up, in the dish
4. Sprinkle chopped basil over the tomatoes
5. Top each one with a spoonful of grated parmesan
6. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes until tomatoes are hot through and the cheese has melted.
7. Serve hot
There are four main types of tomatoes:
–Regular family tomato: these can be used in everyday meals; salads, cheese on toast, sandwiches and sliced to garnish any meal.
–Cherry tomatoes: small sweet and a favourite with the kids!
–Plum tomatoes: Often bought in cans, growing them at home is fun.
–Beefsteak tomatoes: As they sound, these tomatoes grow big and beefy! They do take a little longer to develop and ripen.
Within these four types, there are hundreds of variations. I grew some tiny yellow plum tomatoes for a couple of years and the children devoured them as soon as they were ripe 🙂
And there are many variations within those types. I found this lovely heirloom seed kit on Amazon (UK) but have a look in your local garden centre or supplier as they may have just as many varieties!
“10 x varieties of heirloom garden tomatoes: Alisa Craig seeds, Alicante seeds, Black Russian seeds, Gardeners Delight seeds, Moneymaker seeds, Roma seeds, San Marzano seeds, Super Marmande seeds, Tigerella seeds, Yellow Pear seeds.”
P.S. Growing your own organic tomatoes is one of the best things you can do for your family! Grab this growing guide to help you get the most from your crops.
How to Grow Tomatoes (updated edition)
Choose from your favourite book store over on our Mini Guides page.