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A-Z FRUIT CELEBRATION – by Dr Marli Botha

“T” is for Tomato!

 

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit… Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad! The tomato is the edible, often red, berry of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. Botanically, a tomato is a fruit — a berry, consisting of the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant. This has led to a legal dispute in the United States. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables, but not on fruit, caused the tomato's status to become a matter of legal importance. Consequently, if a tomato is a fruit, is ketchup a jam!?

 

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 Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus. 

  • People used to be afraid to eat tomatoes, thinking them to be poisonous due to their relation to the belladonna or (deadly nightshade) plant.
  • There are over 10,000 varieties of tomato, these come in a variety of colours including pink, purple, black, yellow and white
  • Did you know Heinz Tomato Ketchup has a speed limit? If the yummy sauce pours at more than 0.028mph when it’s in the Heinz Tomato Ketchup factory, it’s considered too runny and rejected!
  • The tomato is eaten in many different ways, raw like a fruit, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salsas, salads, processed into ketchup or tomato soup. Tomato juice is made as a drink and used in cocktails like a Bloody Mary. 

Here are some other uses for tomatoes that you probably did not know:

-      Copper and stainless steel pans with an inner core of copper to increase heat conductivity are prone to tarnish. The problem arises when the copper combines with oxygen in the air to form brown copper oxide. Tomato sauce contains acetic acid (a weak organic chemical that gives condiments their bitter taste) which combats tarnishing. ‘The acetic acid works to convert the copper oxide or brown tarnish into copper acetate and water.' Because the copper acetate is soluble, it rinses away in the water. Your tarnish is gone.

-       Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can rehabilitate sun-damaged skin and, with the help of its vital vitamins A, C, and K protect it from further damage. Lycopene also helps boost the production of collagen, which is vital for keeping skin looking fresh and plump. Though fresh tomatoes have a healthy amount of lycopene, cooked tomatoes contain a more concentrated amount. Instead of buying an expensive face mask, smear your face with cooled cooked tomatoes and leave for 15 minutes. The smell is horrible but, it leaves your skin feeling softer and you'll have a healthy glow.