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The tomato is truly the most versatile fruit out there.
Tomatoes are a staple food in almost every kitchen. Their bright, red colour makes every dish look more appetising.
Simply raw with mozzarella, deliciously combined with meat in a Bolognese, or atop a pizza – tomatoes are general all-rounders and are extremely popular worldwide. The fruit has 25 calories per 100 grams and consists of almost 90% water. They are part of the nightshade family and are known to contribute a good deal to a balanced diet; they are a good source of fibre, vitamin C and the orange-red carotene called lycopene, which is known for its antioxidant effects.
|Calories||25 kcal per 100g|
|Nutrients||3.2g carbohydrate, 3.2g fibre, 0.3g fat, 0.8g protein per 100g|
|Season||April-October in Switzerland, year round in other countries|
|Storage||dark, cool place – do not refrigerate as they will lose their aroma, and do not store next to cucumbers as they produce ethylene which turns cucumbers yellow|
|Shelf life||1 week|
As popular as the tomato is in many European countries, it’s hard to believe that it in fact originated somewhere quite far away. The tomato plant is native to South and Central America and came to Europe at the end of the 15th century. The Aztecs began to cultivate the berry-like fruit, which is now considered a culinary vegetable, and called it “tomatl” meaning “plump fruit”.
Thanks to Columbus, the tomato probably reached the Spanish city of Seville first. Shortly thereafter, the tomato set off a roaring trade in Italy, where it became known as the “golden apple”. This was due to the fact that the yellow version was more widespread and used as both an herbal medicine and an aphrodisiac. In the 17th century the tomato found its way from the medicinal world into the kitchen. The first traditional recipe for a tomato sauce dates back to 1692.
Today, the tomato is a common ingredient in many cuisines. It is mostly cultivated in China, the US, Turkey and Italy. The red tomato is the most common, followed by the yellow tomato, and then come the green, purple, white and black varieties. Although we are used to round tomatoes, they come in all shapes and sizes – some look similar to cherries, pears, or plums, while others can be flat or heart-shaped. A colourful tomato salad can flaunt all the different varieties and is a real feast for the senses. Fresh tomatoes can be found in the vegetable aisle, or dried and preserved in the dried foods aisle. The powerful flavour of the latter makes them a great topping for salads, sauces, and tapas.
Beefsteak tomatoes are beautifully red in colour and have a tasty flesh with little juice. They are a delicious addition to sauces and are also good eaten raw. They can be used, for example, in an aromatic Caprese salad with mozzarella and basil – this is how most Italians prefer to eat them. With this type of tomato, you shouldn’t wait until it goes a deep red in colour. There are two reasons for this: the balance between sugar and acid is best when they are still green, and the other reason is that they are the most delicate of tomato varieties. They are sensitive to the touch and should be eaten as soon as possible when they are in full maturity. The name derives from their peculiar appearance: they are quite large and heavy and have a ribbed edge that makes them reminiscent of a bull’s heart.
The ProSpecieRara red Cœur de Bœuf (or oxheart) tomato came from an amateur gardener from Basel. It differs from most modern varieties in that it grows true to seed. "True to seed" means that you can take the seeds from a Cœur de Bœuf tomato, sow them the next year and always obtain exactly the same variety.
Baselbieter tomatoes are known for their unusual shape and strong aroma. They are slightly bigger than the common cherry tomatoes and have a similar oval shape to date tomatoes. They have two fruit chambers, are a rich red in colour, and have a smooth, firm shell. The taste of the Baselbieter tomatoes sets them apart: the tasty sour flavour combined with the sweet aroma make them a real highlight for any Mediterranean dish. Whether with lettuce, in pasta dishes, or with a barbecues this tomato variety tastes great in plenty of combinations and also makes a healthy snack when eaten raw. The Baselbieter tomato is native to Switzerland and is a very fruitful plant that grows as high as 2.5 metres tall.
Black cherry tomatoes are almost all black in colour and always make a visual impact in any dish. They have a particularly sweet and intense flavour, and can be stored for a long time. Instead of being purely black, they are in fact a dark purple or brown in colour – this is not only the case for the skin but also the flesh too. Black tomatoes are not exactly new; most varieties originate in Eastern Europe. The black cherry tomato is a new cultivar from the US. How exactly does the black cherry tomato taste? It has a surprisingly sweet and spicy aroma, making it quite a treat. If you’re planning a special dinner with friends and would like to include something that excites the palate, then this tomato is the one for you!
Almost no other food is as diverse as the tomato – rarely is it used as a simple garnish, but more often than not it is the star of the show. Tomatoes are suited to every occasion; whether it is spaghetti Bolognese, lasagne or pizza for dinner; a Bloody Mary cocktail for night time; or tomato slices with mozzarella for a warm summer’s day. Cooked, grilled, roasted or raw, tomatoes always pack a vibrant taste. As well as this, tomato juice coincidentally became the go-to drink when flying. Apparently, when you’re thousands of metres in the sky, the flavour of tomato juice is supposed to be even better. It’s a matter of taste but is definitely worth a try.
The low-calorie content of tomatoes makes them the ideal addition to a plateful of assorted vegetables or a fresh and healthy salad. As a snack, either a sun-dried tomato or a fresh one with a pinch of salt and pepper is a simple yet delicious treat. Bruschetta, the Italian antipasto, is another popular tomato dish with diced tomatoes, onion, oil, garlic and seasoning on a slice of crispy bread. Pureed, well-seasoned and with a dollop of cream, tomatoes make a warming soup or a refreshing gazpacho. The possibilities of tomatoes are endless – let yourself be inspired by our favourite tomato recipes.
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