Discovering our food: tomatoes

Hello my dear readers,

I hope you had a great weekend! Monday is here, a new week is here, don’t be sad, let’s try to enjoy it and make it worth it πŸ™‚

This week I’ll like to take you in a journey to discover a very loved summer ingredient: tomatoes!

Popsicle Society_everything you need to know tomato1

Did you know that currently the tomato together with the potato, are the most cultivated vegetables in the world?

Is impossible not to see the tomatoes as a protagonist of dishes and foods that have become part of tradition: how to conceive its lack from the Mediterranean cuisine, from the pizza, from many sauces and salads?

Popsicle Society_Tomato Origins

The tomato plant is native from Latin America, it developed in tropical climates and in particular in the areas that now correspond to the states of Peru and Ecuador and from here it was taken to Mexico by the Maya and then widely used by the Aztecs. It seems that they already produced salsa with tomatoes, to which they attributed great virtues, among others also an aphrodisiac power.

The original tomatoes, however, were certainly not the ones we find today in our gardens: we enjoy the fruits of a long selection, implemented for centuries by the farmers of the various eras, starting from the Aztecs, who cultivated it in the southern regions of Mexico. It was here that HernΓ‘n CortΓ©s,Β famous explorer, saw it during the occupation of the region, between 1519 and 1521. From Mexico the seeds arrived in Spain following missionaries, who borrowed the term tomatl used by the natives, called tomate the new fruit. Around 1532 the dictionaries set the first attestation in Spanish of the word tomate.

In the eyes of Europeans, the plant from the Americas was similar to a species already known and poisonous, the solanum nigrum (black grass). It was considered that even the tomato was not edible, because in the past tomatoes could have had greater solanine content, therefore were non-toxic but were difficult to digest. The plant was later improved in quality and aesthetics and by 1572 we find already the red tomatoes.

Although not appreciated from the culinary point of view, the tomatoes spread for ornamental purposes: showing exotic plants was a source of pride for the nobles, especially in France where the vegetable was planted in the park of the palace of Versailles for the pride of the Sun king.

It took two centuries to reach a significant consumption of tomatoes in the old continent: until 1700 the general distrust prevented the vegetables from spreading. The famines of the 1800s were a strong incentive to look for new foods and this allowed to discover the food richness of tomatoes.

The tomato arrived in Italy shortly after its arrival in Spain, as the Spaniards had possessions in Italy and maintained excellent relations with the various lords and the Bourbon empire.

Sicily, was probably the first Italian region that knew the new plant, thanks to the direct Spanish influence on the island; in fact from this region come the most ancient Italian recipes based on tomatoes, especially dried sauces and preserves.

The “official” and documented history of the tomato in Italy begins on October 31, 1548 in Pisa, when Cosimo de ‘Medici receives from the Florentine estate of Torre del Gallo a basket of tomatoes born from seeds donated to his wife, Eleanor of Toledo, from his father, Viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples.

The spread of tomatoes in Italy, however, was very slow: the initial distrust of the new vegetable, which cannot be associated with any known food, mortified its gastronomic potential for a long time. Only in the eighteenth century, will the period of gastronomic “experimentation” begin, which will lead to the wider spread that we know today.

Popsicle Society_Tomato Ambient&needs

Tomatoes can be easily grown both in garden and in pots. All they need is warm and sunny, sheltered from the wind, and a soil rich in nutrients, neutral and well-drained, and, will need also supports for the plant.

Over the past 200 years tomatoes have become one of the most important vegetable crops, many varieties have been selected for cultivation, adapting the plant to the most diverse climates and soils.

From the cherry tomato to the ox heart tomato, from the classic salsa tomato to the extravagant black tomatoes, we are talking about a vegetable that we never have enough, thanks to its many varieties and the thousand uses it finds in the kitchen. The satisfaction of eating a tomato picked directly from its own plant will repay all the agricultural work required.

The tomato should be sown in the trays, between February and March, the seed sprouts in about a week. It must be placed in a warm environment: it takes about 24 degrees to sprout. It then requires at least 13 degrees to grow. Tomato is a plant sensitive to temperature rather than to daylight hours.

From sowing to seedbed it is then passed to the pot, up to the pre-flowering stage. At this point it can be transplanted, as long as the minimum temperatures are at least 10 degrees. The flowers need a minimum of 13 degrees to attach, otherwise there is a fruitless drop. The transplantation in the pre-flowering phase, when the plants are about 30 cm high, allows the seedlings to be arranged with the flowers facing the flower bed, so that all the flowers will emerge from that side and the harvest will be very convenient.

To decide at what distance to transplant the tomato seedlings it is necessary to know if the plant has a specific habit (it stops growing and reaches a certain size, therefore it does not require supports) or with an indeterminate habit (it is necessary to prepare supports). Vegetable tomatoes are usually of indeterminate growth and rows are made 70 cm apart (50 cm along the row between one plant and another).

Of course if you decide to grow them in pots, no need of transplantation.

From time to time cut the side shoots that develop in the axils of the leaves, when they exceed 5 cm in length. This operation allows the sap to concentrate in the fruits.

The ideal soil for growing tomatoes is with ph 6, the soil must be fairly loose and draining, without stagnant water that would favor plant diseases. To obtain a good harvest, the soil must be rich in nutrients and organic substance. In fact, tomatoes are a fairly “greedy” vegetable.

Although types of tomatoes that are quite resistant to cold have been selected, it is still a plant that fears frost, and above all that requires excellent sun exposure so you need to find that sun-kissed place. The plant also fears excessive dryness, which can be limited by mulching and irrigation.

Popsicle Society_Tomato use in the kitchen

Tomatoes are a food used daily for the preparation of many recipes and it can be considered the author of a gastronomic revolution.

There are about four thousand varieties of tomatoes that are traditionally divided into: table tomatoes, peeled tomatoes and salsa tomatoes, juices and concentrates.

Summer is the season of red gold: whole fields cultivated with different varieties of tomatoes, which ripen is giving us great satisfaction. Its variations in the kitchen are endless, from classic traditional dishes to the most innovative recipes.

Tomato can be used as a base ingredient for a granita or a salty sorbet, to combine with a raw fish or meat. You can sautΓ© in a pan with oil and garlic, slice in a salad or fill with many ingredients, from bread to rice, from cheese to tuna.

To refresh the hot summer days, why not prepare a delicious cocktail like the Bloody Mary? Or a nice tomato soup? As an ingredient allows you to give the green light to personal imagination. Summer is also the perfect time for raw sauces: simply take some ripe tomatoes, put them in boiling water for a maximum of ten minutes just to peel them easily without cooking them, so as not to lose their freshness; then you have to gently squeeze and cut them into pieces, adding basil and extra virgin olive oil: it will be an irresistible sauce to season your pasta!

In the preparation of the second course the tomato can be used in various ways, for example in fish stew. Finally, its sweeter note reveals the tomato in desserts, where it also contributes with its note of acidity, used as a main ingredient or as a transverse component, such as tomato confit.

PopsicleSociety-tagliatelle ai spinaci con ragu_3743
Photo credit: Popsicle Society-Tagliatelle verdi al ragΓΉΒ 
Popsicle Society_brunch_0942
Photo credit: Popsicle Society-My Sunday brunch
Popsicle Society-caprese
Photo credit: Popsicle Society-Caprese Salad

Popsicle Society_Tomato benefits

Tomato has healing qualities against: arteriosclerosis, hypertension, pulmonary infections, bulimia, rheumatism, gout, loss of appetite, fluid retention, cramps, muscle weakness.

A tomato, rich in beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin is more effective, against aging than any medicine, being the antioxidant for excellence and fighting free radicals responsible for cell aging.

The caloric intake of the tomato is naturally low (it supplies only 16 kcal for 100 g) for this reason it is particularly indicated in slimming diets, thanks to its high content of water.

Composed of 94% water, they are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium. They also contain vitamins B and E, folic acid, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

Thanks to the sour taste, the tomato stimulates the secretions of the digestive system and favors the good assimilation of what has been eaten.

The imagination, especially of the Italians, has over time enhanced the tomato, exalting it in many of our daily dishes and allowing it to become part of the “Mediterranean cuisine” family, despite the sea of origin of the tomato being the Atlantic!

Popsicle Society_everything you need to know tomato2

Thank you for reading and for joining me in this discovering journey! I hope you like tomatoes as much as I do πŸ™‚

Join me next time and let’s discover Sicily, the first Italian region that knew the tomato plant.

And last but not least, if only we could understand before it is too late that nothing is forever. Try to not live in regrets! Nothing is forever!

Have a great week!

Bye bye for now πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

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62 thoughts on “Discovering our food: tomatoes

  1. Hey Ribanna! Tat is surely a mini wikipedia version of tomatoes. Well done. Such a great work covering points that wikipedia doesnt cover. Not just about tomatoes its origin, benefits, medical uses.Clearly shows your research and effort and your knowlegde in making this one βœ¨πŸ‘ And funny gif’s to start and end the content βœ¨πŸ˜ƒ Wish you a great week βœ¨πŸ€—βœοΈ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Simon for your time and for your kind words! I’m glad you like it πŸ˜‰
      Yes, I think there are a lot of things we don’t know about these delicious ingredients that maybe we are using in our daily life πŸ˜‰ Is always good to know what we are eating right? πŸ˜‰
      As usual, I’m always trying to bring a smile if possible 😊
      Have a wonderful week too Simon 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Is not always easy to find them good…also in Singapore I’m struggling sometimes, especially because they need to import everything…back home I used to have them in my little garden….what a taste 😊πŸ€ͺπŸ˜‹

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love tomatoes, but I had no idea about their history! Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information about them. It makes me appreciate them even more. And your gifs crack me up! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Michelle 😊 I’m glad you like it! Yes, I guess there are so many things we don’t know about the food we eat 😊 I’m glad I could also make you laugh πŸ˜†
      Wish you a wonderful day 😊😊🌸🌸

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Ms.Popsicle. Honestly, I admire how much effort you put in these. They’re informative and understandable, which isn’t a very common combination. Can you, in the near future, do a spaghetti recipe? I’d love to see it =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Nour for your kind words 😊 I’m glad you like it! I guess there are a lot of things we don’t know about our delicious food…Spaghetti? Hmmm…I do have a few recipe in my blog under food category of spaghetti and actually just today I did a delicious carbonara πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ I would look into it πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰ Thank you 😊 Have a wonderful day 😊😊🌸🌸

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Look at all these delicious dishes🀩🀩 Great post, well written and surely took lot of time to prepareπŸ‘πŸ˜Š
    I didn’t know “are the most cultivated vegetables in the world” and I didn’t know all the information you shared especially the historical ones 😊 we must thank the Latin America for tomatoes then 😁
    “Protagonist of dishes and foods” I agree! here the women go to market and the essential vegetables are tomatoes and cucumber, we use tomatoes in almost all kind of food and almost all salads as well! (especially our Tabbouleh and Fattoush)
    I always loved tomatoes more that green vegetables, my grandfather used to grow them and we used to take salt and cultivate and eat directly from plants and we had diarrhea many times because they used to be hot from the sun πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
    I prefer the small red ones, a bit bigger than the cherry tomatoes, we have the Baladi, they are big and more green than red, we cut them round slices and eat them with garlic and Sumac as Mezze (appetizer) 😊 but since there are four thousand varieties of tomatoes, oh well I guess I tasted only few 😊😁
    We grow tomatoes here in big plastic shelters called “Hengar” to protect them I guess and they need temperature as well
    Here it’s also so familiar to use the tomato paste (reb el banadoura) in most of food and some people do them at home, as they also make Ketchup also at home πŸ™‚ So tomatoes are so famous and it’s great to read all these benefits! One thing that it’s rich in acid and they don’t recommend it for acid reflux but lot of benefits and lot of vitamins! as usually they are so helpful and informative πŸ‘πŸ˜Š
    Nothing is forever indeed and the last Gifs are actually funny πŸ˜‚
    Thank you for sharing this important post and hope your Tuesday will be great after the long weekend πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ₯‚πŸ₯‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always I thank you dear Huguette for your precious time and for your great comment and support πŸ€—
      When I’ve started my research for this post, I did not know a lot of things about these awesome veggies πŸ…
      And then thinking of it, in my whole life I always had tomatoes and potatoes at home regardless of the country where I was in 😝 When you don’t know what to eat, definitely some tomatoes or potatoes can solve your problem 😝πŸ€ͺ
      I’m really craving for your Tabbouleh and Fattoush πŸ˜‹
      Oh I know, I used to do the same when I was a kid…πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ despite the side effects what a great taste they had πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ and I loved the perfume of them too πŸ˜‰ Actually now when I buy tomatoes, first thing I do I smell them 😝😝 you know are good if you feel the perfume πŸ˜‰
      Can you imagine? More than 4 thousand varieties πŸ™ˆπŸ€ͺ I love the cherry tomatoes but the most I like the ox heart πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ so juicy πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ…πŸ… but quite difficult to find it here in Singapore…nowadays I’ve found something similar imported from Japan, not bad πŸ˜‰
      Green tomatoes are delicious too…we use to fry them πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š but must be delicious as appetizer as well πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹
      Yes, I remember also my grandma used to create this shelters covered with plastic starting from late February, March where she had tomatoes, peppers, eggplants…oh how I miss that period of my life 😍😍
      Reb el banadoura is the tomato paste? Also my grandma used to do it: paste, sauce, ketchup…so so good πŸ˜‹
      My mother in law has problem with acid reflux but she likes to eat tomatoes πŸ… πŸ€ͺ
      I know you are not so keen of red sauces but I guess a fresh tomato salad specially in summer time you enjoy it too πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰
      I really appreciate your time my dear! Thank you very very much! πŸ€—πŸ€—
      Crazy hectic day as per usual πŸ€ͺ😝πŸ€ͺ😝
      Enjoy our free day until you can πŸ˜ŠπŸ€—πŸ€—πŸŒΈπŸŒΈπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§Έ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes also the potatoes here, they are everywhere 😁
        hope soon you will taste our good especially Tabbouleh and Fattoush 😁
        Yes when they are really fresh, they smell great 😊
        Oh yes I couldn’t imagine all this variety 😳
        I also love the juicy and red ones even if I don’t know the name 😁
        Remembering the old days especially the simple life in nature is always great actually 😊😊
        Yes Banadoora =tomato and reb is paste 😌
        Of course I enjoy fresh tomato salad and even red sauce if it’s well done 😊😊
        Always a great pleasure to interact with you and also learn from your posts 😊
        First day after vacation is always hectic 😣 that will be tomorrow for me πŸ˜• glad yours is almost over 😌
        I’m still enjoying haha πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§Έ

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I always loved potatoes πŸ₯” in every way 😝😝😝 fried, boiled, baked, purΓ©ed…all possible ways 😝😝😝 and tomatoes in summer are a must πŸ…πŸ˜‰
        I’m sure one day I’ll taste all your delicious food πŸ˜‰πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ
        We call the big and juicy ones cuore di bue which means ox heart but not sure is called the same way everywhere 😊
        True! Great memories of a simple life enjoying nature! So blessed!
        Ok, today I’ve learned 2 Lebanese words: banadoora and reb πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
        Oh, you would love my sauce 😝😝
        Thank you my dear always for your support! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€— enjoy it until you can πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰
        πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§Έ

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hahahh here with each platter at restaurants they ask you if you want french fries or baked potatoes or wedges etc… 😁 potatoes everywhereπŸ₯”πŸ₯”πŸ₯” and the sweet potatoes 🍠 it’s so different!
        Cuore di bue haha okay I’ll try to remember that 😌 and maybe I should mention more Lebanese words if you’re interested 😁
        Akel = food
        Maakaroonee = pasta
        I’m sure your food is delicious πŸ˜‹ as we say here they have « nafas 7elouΒ Β» something like they cook delicious food
        Enjoy your afternoon πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§Έ will be driving in a bit 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yay, I guess potatoes are loved everywhere πŸ˜‰
        So I can travel everywhere in this world, I will definitely not starve, as I will always find a common veggie to eat πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
        Yes, I like sweet potatoes also, but are very different 😊
        Maakaroonee is pasta, of course….I would have say so without even knowing it…πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ macaroni cheese πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ
        Difficult language for sure πŸ€ͺπŸ˜‰πŸ€ͺ but always curious and keen to learn new things πŸ˜‰πŸ€ͺ
        I will forget everything until tomorrow I guess πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ
        Be careful and have a safe trip back home πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

        Liked by 1 person

      5. 😁😁 you will always find veggies to eat that’s for sure! Here we have the best cuisine and the best food ever!
        Macaroni πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ exactly!
        Each language is difficult as long as we don’t know it as I believe, but you can always learn few words πŸ˜‰ I will prepare you a test and if you forgot I will throw spoilers for Avengers because I’m sure you didn’t watch it πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ˜•πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ😁
        So watch it very soon and start memorizing these words hahaha
        me being Hitler 😁😁
        Arrived safely not without some tricks, but the matter is the result πŸ˜πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ₯‚πŸ₯‚

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I guess all countries are so different but for food for sure they have something in common 😝πŸ€ͺ
        Yes, true…is difficult because we don’t know it but is always nice to learn something 😊
        Ahahaha…seen already, so now you can throw spoilers everywhere πŸ˜‰πŸ˜πŸ€ͺ
        Not without some tricks? How come all your driving trips are full of β€œsome tricks” πŸ€”πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ
        For you will be already morning when you’ll read so have e good day at work πŸ€ͺπŸ˜‰πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸŒΈπŸŒΈ

        Liked by 1 person

      7. OHHH you saw it!! I’m sure you didn’t like the ending right??
        Well people that drive slowly and don’t move are a pain in the ass! I need to surpass them
        Yes back to work and until now it’s not that horrific hahha
        Enjoy your day πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸŒΈ

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Nope, actually I did not expect it to end! WTF? really?
        I hope in the next movies to see some clues as this end doesn’t have any sense 😦
        Oh yes, I’ve forgot…slow driving is driving Huguette nuts πŸ™‚
        I’m glad you’ve started well! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸŒΈ

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Then now you can read my review when you can 😁 They will mostly use flashbacks or returning to pass thing to show them again I guess
        Yes this moment where I wish I have a tank!!! 😁😁
        Have a great afternoon πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•

        Liked by 1 person

      10. You know I’m curious about that review πŸ€ͺ…as soon as I have some time πŸ˜…
        I hope they’ll do something as it ended suddenly without any hope 🀨
        Maybe can consider the purchase the next time you need to buy a car πŸ€”πŸ˜πŸ˜ not a bad idea πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ
        πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Well they won eventually but many were dead πŸ™ and captain America also practically dead πŸ™
        Yes will purchase a tank πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
        πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§Έ

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I guess captain America opened a new parallel future since he went back and married the women he loved πŸ’•πŸ˜‰ So maybe we can have some surprises πŸ˜‰
        I’m sorry for Nat though….I understand her movie will come soon πŸ˜‰
        Great choice πŸ˜‰ Then, behave slow drivers 🀣🀣🀣🀣
        πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ§ΈπŸ’•πŸ’•

        Like

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