Fruit or veggie? The controversy about the tomato rages on. Botanically, it qualifies as a fruit, because a fruit is the edible part of any plant that contains seeds. But the tomato has long been misunderstood and maligned, dating back to the 18th century, when the British believed it was poisonous (perhaps because it belongs to the same family as the deadly nightshade plant). True to form, the French disagreed with this assessment and dubbed the tomato the “apple of love.” Call it what you will, the scientific term for the common tomato is lycopersicon lycopersicum.
Health Benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tomatoes are high in vitamins A and C and are one of the few food sources of the antioxidant lycopene, which is related to beta carotene. Like other fruits, tomatoes are naturally low in calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium, making them heart-healthy choices. For those limiting their carb intake, the California Tomato Organization provides this breakdown of carbohydrates for different types of tomatoes (per tomato):
red tomato: 7 g
yellow tomato: 6 g
orange tomato: 4 g
Roma tomato: 3 g
cherry tomato: 1 g
How to Buy & Store. Tomatoes reach their peak in flavor and nutritional value when they are fully ripe, full colored and still somewhat firm. If bought when overripe, the fruit becomes soft and will be less flavorful. Tomatoes picked when green and then ripened indoors will never be as tasty as vine-ripened ones. Never store tomatoes in the fridge, since that will ruin their flavor.
How to Use in Recipes. To peel tomatoes for use in a sauce, place them in a large strainer and submerge them in a pot of boiling water for 5–10 seconds. Remove the tomatoes, and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool for 1 minute. This will loosen the skin so it can be removed with a paring knife. To release the seeds, cut the fruit in half horizontally and gently squeeze it.
It’s summertime, and the cooking should be easy. Armed with these simple techniques from grilling gurus, you’ll be ready to fire up the barbie, mate!
- Never spray your grill with cooking sprays. Instead, experts advise, put some peanut oil on a wad of paper towels and use tongs to apply the oiled paper on the ridges of the grill.
- Before cooking your food, rub it first with spices, then brush with olive oil. This technique keeps the spice flavors intact throughout the grilling process.
- To get the same kinds of “professional” grill marks as your favorite barbeque joint, rotate the food a quarter turn midway through cooking each side.