It is believed that the present type of tomato is descended from a species no larger than marbles, that grew thousands of years ago. The tomato is native to the Andean region of South America and was under cultivation in Peru in the sixteenth century at the time of the Spanish conquest. Before the end of the sixteenth century, the people of England and the Netherlands were eating and enjoying tomatoes. The English called it the “love apple,” and English romancers presented it as a token of affection; Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have presented one to Queen Elizabeth.
M. F. Corne is credited with being the first man to eat a tomato. His fellow citizens of Newport, Rhode Island, erected a monument to him, because the tomato was considered poisonous until Mr. Corne dared to eat one.
By cultivation and use the tomato is a vegetable; botanically, it is a fruit, and can be classified as a berry, being pulpy and containing one or more seeds that are not stones. It is considered a citric acid fruit and is in the same classification as oranges and grapefruit. Some oxalic acid is also contained in the tomato.
Consumption of tomatoes is on the increase. They are the third most important vegetable crop on the basis of market value; the first is potatoes. Tomatoes are produced in all states. In order of importance, the producers are: Texas, California, Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee. In the first four month~ of the year heavy shipments are imported from Mexico and Cuba. Fresh tomatoes are available all year, either from domestic production or imports. June and August are the peak months.
Tomatoes number greatly in variety, but it is estimated that only sixteen varieties are included in 90 percent of all tomatoes grown in the United States. Their characteristic colors range from pink to scarlet. A white tomato has recently been developed that is supposed to be acid-free. A good, mature tomato is neither overripe nor soft, but well developed, smooth, and free from decay, cracks, or bruises. Spoiled tomatoes should be separated immediately from the sound ones or decay will quickly spread.
If fresh, ripe tomatoes are unavailable, canned tomato and canned tomato juice are fine substitutes. It is preferable to use tomato puree, rather than canned tomatoes put up in water. Puree contains more vitamins and minerals.
Tomatoes are best when combined with proteins. Use tomatoes in both fruit and vegetable salads. They are cooling and refreshing in beverages, and are especially good as a flavoring for soups. Tomatoes can be used to give color, and make green salads more inviting.
Tomato juice should be used very soon after it has been drawn from the tomato, or after the canned juice is opened. If it is opened and left that way, it will lose much of its mineral value, because it oxidizes very quickly.
Tomatoes should be picked ripe, as the acids of the green tomato are very detrimental to the body and very hard on the kidneys. Many of the tomatoes today are grown in hothouses and are picked too green and allowed to ripen on their way to the markets or in cold storage plants built for this purpose. If the seeds, or the internal part of the tomato, is still green, while the outside is red, this is an indication that the fruit has been picked too green.
The tomato is not acid forming; it contains a great deal of citric acid but is alkaline forming when it enters the bloodstream. It increases the alkalinity of the blood and helps remove toxins, especially uric acid, from the system. As a liver cleanser, tomatoes are wonderful, especially when used with the green vegetable juices.
In many of the sanitariums in Europe tomatoes are used as a poultice for various conditions in the body. There is a mistaken belief that tomatoes are not good for those who have rheumatism and gout. People with these conditions should mix tomato juice with other vegetable juices to avoid a reaction that may be too strong.
Whenever the blood is found to be stagnant in any part of the body, a tomato poultice is wonderful as a treatment in removing that stagnation. It acts as a dissolving agent or solvent.
Tomatoes are very high in vitamin value. They are wonderful as a blood cleanser, and excellent in elimination diets. However, they should not be used to excess on a regular basis. Tomato juice can be used in convalescent diets, in combination with other raw vegetable juices such as celery, parsley, beet, and carrot juice.
NUTRIENTS IN ONE POUND
Vitamin A: 4,0801.U.
Ascorbic acid: 102mg