February 28, 2024

Interesting Facts About Tomatoes


Summer is winding down which means tomato season will soon be here. There is nothing quite like a fresh tomato ripe off the vine. There are literally hundreds of tomato varieties.

We are going to dive into some fun facts about tomatoes, then learn all about varieties of tomatoes and their best uses.

Facts About Tomatoes

These delightful fruits (yes, tomatoes are technically fruits!) are filled with intriguing and surprising facts. Join us on a journey through the lesser-known, fun facts about tomatoes that will leave you amazed and hungry for more knowledge.

  1. Not Always Loved: Surprisingly, tomatoes haven't always been embraced with open arms. In the past, they were believed to be poisonous due to their relation to the deadly nightshade family. It wasn't until the 18th century that tomatoes started gaining popularity and were widely accepted as a safe and delicious addition to our plates.
  2. The Heirloom Charm: Ever heard of heirloom tomatoes? These unique varieties have been passed down through generations, keeping their original traits intact. With their diverse shapes, colors, and flavors, heirloom tomatoes provide a delightful twist to the usual tomato experience.
  3. World's Luscious Record: The Guinness World Record for the heaviest tomato ever grown goes to a massive 8.61 pounds wonder! Imagine making a whole lot of tomato sauce with that beast.
  4. A Fruit or Vegetable? In 1893, the "Great Tomato Debate" made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The question: Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? The court ruled it as a vegetable for tariff purposes, but scientifically, tomatoes are indeed fruits, being produced from the ovary of a flower and containing seeds.
  5. Name Origins: The name "tomato" is thought to have originated from the Aztec word "tomatl." When Spanish explorers discovered these luscious delights in the 16th century, they brought them back to Europe, where they eventually earned their popular name.
  6. The Buzzing Solution: Tomatoes rely on buzz pollination, a technique where they release pollen when certain native bee species, like bumblebees, vibrate their wings. These bees play a vital role in the tomato's reproductive process.
  7. Bursting with Antioxidants: Tomatoes are bursting with health benefits! They are a rich source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers.
  8. Tomatoes in Space: In 1984, the U.S. space shuttle Challenger carried tomato seeds into space. These seeds later sprouted and produced ripe tomatoes back on Earth, making them the first space-grown vegetable.

From being mistaken for poison to making their way into outer space, tomatoes have had quite the journey through history. The next time you enjoy a ripe, juicy tomato, remember the fascinating fun facts that lie behind this beloved fruit. So, whether you slice them for a sandwich or blend them into a sauce, these delightful red wonders will always be more than just a tasty treat on your plate. Embrace the tomato's journey, and let its juicy secrets add a burst of flavor to your culinary adventures. 

Types of Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are miniature, bite-sized versions of traditional tomatoes that pack a burst of flavor in a small package. They come in various shapes, colors, and tastes, offering a delightful array of options to suit different culinary preferences.

Here are some popular types of cherry tomatoes:

  • Red Cherry Tomatoes: The classic red cherry tomatoes are the most common variety, known for their sweet and tangy taste. They are small, round, and bright red, making them perfect for snacking, salads, or garnishing dishes.
  • Yellow Cherry Tomatoes: Yellow cherry tomatoes offer a sweeter and milder flavor compared to their red counterparts. Their vibrant color adds a pop of sunshine to salads and dishes, making them visually appealing.
  • Grape Tomatoes: Grape tomatoes are oblong in shape, resembling tiny grapes. They are slightly firmer and less juicy than traditional cherry tomatoes but still possess a sweet flavor. They are often used in salads, pasta dishes, and as a colorful appetizer.
  • Pear Tomatoes: Pear tomatoes, as the name suggests, have a pear-like shape with a pointed end. They have a slightly sweeter taste than standard cherry tomatoes and work well in salads and roasting recipes.
  • Green Cherry Tomatoes: Green cherry tomatoes offer a unique tart and tangy flavor, and they are a little firmer in texture compared to the red and yellow varieties. They can be pickled or used in recipes that call for a slightly sour kick.
  • Black Cherry Tomatoes: Black cherry tomatoes, also known as purple or brown cherry tomatoes, are dark-colored fruits with a rich, sweet, and smoky flavor. They are less common but highly sought after for their unique taste and appearance.
  • Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes: Similar to black cherry tomatoes, chocolate cherry tomatoes are small, dark brown, and have a rich, sweet flavor profile. They are a delightful addition to salads and add a touch of elegance to dishes.
  • Sweet 100 Tomatoes: Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are a specific variety known for their exceptional sweetness. They are incredibly prolific, producing long clusters of small, red tomatoes that are perfect for snacking or adding to salads.
  • Sun Gold Tomatoes: Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are small, golden-orange fruits known for their extraordinary sweetness and tropical taste. They are incredibly popular among gardeners and are a favorite for fresh eating and garnishing dishes.
cherry tomatoes

Best Tomatoes for Sandwiches

When it comes to creating sandwiches that are bursting with flavor, your choice of tomatoes matters.

For a delectable experience, consider using beefsteak, Roma, heirloom, Campari, vine-ripened, or cherry tomatoes.

  • Beefsteak tomatoes offer a meaty and juicy texture, perfect for hearty sandwiches, while Roma tomatoes with their firm flesh and low seed count add depth without excess moisture.
  • Vine-ripened tomatoes deliver a burst of juicy goodness, making them a classic favorite for sandwiches like BLTs.
  • Even cherry tomatoes can contribute, especially in Mediterranean or caprese-style sandwiches, adding a touch of freshness.

Whatever you pick, be sure to select firm, plump, and flavorful options to take your sandwiches to the next level.

Best Tomatoes for Canning

When it comes to canning tomatoes, make sure to check out the resources from USU Extension. This is their specialty!

Here are some of the best tomatoes for canning:

  • Roma (Plum) Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are a top choice for canning due to their firm flesh, low moisture content, and few seeds. They have a rich, tangy flavor that intensifies during the canning process, making them perfect for sauces, salsas, and tomato paste.
  • San Marzano Tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes, originally from Italy, are highly regarded for their sweet taste, thick flesh, and low seed count. They are excellent for canning whole or crushed and are a popular choice for making tomato sauces.
  • Heirloom Tomatoes: Heirloom tomatoes come in various colors and shapes, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some heirloom varieties have a higher water content, so it's essential to choose those with dense flesh and rich flavor for canning projects.
  • Celebrity Tomatoes: Celebrity tomatoes are disease-resistant and have a nice balance of acidity and sweetness, making them a reliable choice for canning whole, diced, or in tomato sauces.
  • Early Girl Tomatoes: Early Girl tomatoes ripen early in the season, making them a popular choice for canning when tomatoes are at their freshest and most abundant.

When canning tomatoes, it's essential to select ripe, unblemished fruits. Consider factors such as texture, acidity, and moisture content to ensure the best results for your canned tomato products. With the right tomato varieties, you can enjoy the taste of summer tomatoes all year round in your homemade canned goods.

canned tomatoes

Best Tomato Varieties

The "best" tomato varieties can vary depending on personal preferences, growing conditions, and intended use.

The most common types of tomatoes in our area are Roma, Beefsteak, and Cherry or Grape tomatoes.

  • Beefsteak Tomatoes: Known for their large size and meaty texture, beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for slicing and adding to sandwiches, burgers, and salads. They have a mild, sweet flavor that is complemented by their juicy interior.
  • Roma (Plum) Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes have a dense and firm flesh with fewer seeds and less juice. They are great for making sauces, pastes, and canning due to their rich flavor and low moisture content.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes come in various colors and sizes, such as red, yellow, orange, and even black. They are sweet, juicy, and perfect for snacking, salads, and roasting.

Ways to Enjoy Your Tomatoes

Since tomatoes are low in fat and sodium, cholesterol free, high in vitamins A and C, and a good source of potassium they make a great addition to any meal at any time of the day. Here are some ideas of ways to enjoy your tomatoes. Make sure to scroll down to some of our delicious tomato recipes!

  • Beefsteak tomatoes are large and most used on sandwiches and in salads because of their size.
  • Roma tomatoes are great to eat by themselves or in a salad. They are fleshy and have few seeds. This kind of tomato makes a great tomato paste.
  • For breakfast, try adding tomatoes to an omelet or chopped up in a breakfast burrito.
  • At lunchtime, top your sandwich with a juicy slice from a beefsteak tomato or throw some cherry tomatoes on top of your green salad.
  • When it's time for a snack try one of my favorites, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers served with cottage cheese.  Add a little salt and pepper and it's a perfect snack!

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