When you think of nutritional powerhouses, you’re probably tempted by an array of exotic-sounding goodies like kale and goji berries. Yet the humble tomato is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, makes a delicious accompaniment to any dish, and is so accessible anyone can enjoy them. They’re also one of the few foods that’s equally as good for you cooked as raw! Today Miami Canners takes a peek into the fascinating world of this delicious fruit- and why everyone needs more tomatoes in their lives!
Depending on the ripeness of your tomato, it will have a host of uses- and a different vitamin and mineral profile. Yet from green to cooked, the tomato comes through time and again as a delicious, health-filled food that’s cheap and simple to use.
When are tomatoes harvested?
Deciding if a tomato is ready to ship is a surprisingly complex process. If you’re growing your own, you can just go pluck it off the vine and get nibbling! The fruit in our local supermarket, however, needs to be shipped with time remaining to ripen, so that it’s perfect in the store, not the truck. This can be done any time from pale green and just developed, right through to ready-to-eat, and it depends on how far the anticipated market is from the farmer. If you do buy a bag of tomatoes that are too green for your taste, just bear this in mind- they will ripen up outside of cold storage.
The world’s most versatile fruit
While it seems a little counter-intuitive that the tomato is a fruit, under technical science specs, it is- it has to do with the way the tomato grows and bears seeds. What we do know is, there’s nothing that has the versatility and taste of the tomato, be it fruit or veggie! Ripe tomatoes make delicious eating sliced, but can also be pureed, powdered, made into tomato sauce or soup, canned, and blended into sauces. Even unripe tomatoes can be used as preserves, tomato ‘jam’ and other preserves.
While we’d never suggest chowing down a tomato instead of going to the doctor, tomato extract has also had medical uses through the ages, and features in the traditional medicines of many cultures. While not all of these uses have a scientific basis, we do know that the lycopene antioxidants in tomatoes are fantastic for skin, and it’s possible they could have a protective effect against several types of digestive cancers.
Because tomatoes contain both calcium and vitamin K, they’re great for the health of our bones and blood vessels, too. The high antioxidant content of tomatoes, across a large breadth of types (including lycopenes, chlorogenic acid, and coumaric acid) also have a protective effect against the negatives of smoking and inner-city pollution. They also contain enough potassium and Vitamin B to help your heart beat stronger, and lower cholesterol too!
As good cooked as raw
The best news of all? While many veggies lose a lot of their vitamin content when exposed to heat during cooking, tomatoes hang on to most of their nutritional value. In fact, lycopenes can even be activated by heat, making it easier for the body to absorb them. So whether you get your daily tomato in a crisp salad or from a Miami Canners Tomato Can, you can rest assured- you’re making a healthy, delicious choice!