There seems to be a common theme in many of my blogs, fresh produce, and more produce. That’s because I’m obsessed with summer fresh vegetables and fruit, especially tomatoes. What’s not to like about the tomato? It’s a beautiful, bright color, red, yellow, orange, green or purple. I can eat it like an apple with a sprinkle of salt. The tomato is a fruit from the night shade family, but usually is eaten and prepared like a vegetable. Let’s explore its value and versatility.
Tomatoes are a major source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant linked to health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer and boosting skin health. Tomatoes are loaded with vitamins C, K, potassium, and folate. They contain 95% water and 1.5 grams of fiber per average sized tomato. Although fresh is always best, lycopene can be obtained in tomato juice, paste, sauces and ketchup.
If you decide to grow them in your back yard, raised bed or container garden, it’s important to know when to pick them. When tomatoes look somewhat pink, partly pale green, they can finish ripening off the vine. Some suggest waiting a few days after this point so they’re essentially ready to eat off the vine. Whatever you decide, check them every day or two because they ripen quickly.
If gardening isn’t for you, there is always the farmers market and grocery stores. Look for tomatoes free of blemishes and bruises. They should be bright red with no discolorations indicating a bad tomato on the inside. The tomato should be firm to the touch and weight indicates juiciness. Finally, tomatoes should smell floral, fruity, and grassy. Tomatoes will continue to ripen on the counter or extend their shelf life in the refrigerator.
How can you utilize tomatoes? Let me count the ways, fresh salsa, sliced on a sandwich, tomato sauce and juice are just a few. Get them at their best in July and August!!! To start try this Summer Garden Salsa recipe.