Monthly Archives: July 2009

Vegetable Of The Week OLIVE

olives

The Olive (Olea europaea) is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin, from Lebanon, Syria and the maritime parts of Turkey and northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea. Its fruit, the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil.

Description

The olive tree is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia and parts of Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 meters in height. The silvery green leaves are oblong in shape, measuring 4–10 cm long and 1–3 cm wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

The small white flowers, with ten-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the last year’s wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.

The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested at the green stage or left to ripen to a rich purple colour (black olive). Canned black olives may contain chemicals that turn them black artificially.

Cultivation And Uses

A selection of olives in a market in Tel Aviv, IsraelThe olive tree has been cultivated since ancient times as a source of olive oil, fine wood, olive leaf, and olives for consumption. The naturally bitter fruit is typically subjected to fermentation or cured with lye or brine to make it more palatable.

Green olives and black olives are washed thoroughly in water to remove oleuropein, a bitter carbohydrate. Sometimes they are also soaked in a solution of food grade sodium hydroxide in order to accelerate the process.

Green olives are allowed to ferment before being packed in a brine solution. American black (“California”) olives are not fermented, which is why they taste milder than green olives.

It is not known when olives were first cultivated for harvest. Among the earliest evidence for the domestication of olives comes from the Chalcolithic Period archaeological site of Teleilat Ghassul in what is today modern Jordan.

Farmers in ancient times believed olive trees would not grow well if planted more than a short distance from the sea; Theophrastus gives 300 stadia (55.6 km) as the limit. Modern experience does not always confirm this, and, though showing a preference for the coast, it has long been grown further inland in some areas with suitable climates, particularly in the southwestern Mediterranean (Iberia, northwest Africa) where winters are mild.

Olive plantation in Andalucia, SpainOlives are now cultivated in many regions of the world with Mediterranean climates, such as South Africa, Chile, Australia, the Mediterranean Basin, Israel, Palestinian Territories and California and in areas with temperate climates such as New Zealand, under irrigation in the Cuyo region in Argentina which has a desert climate. They are also grown in the Córdoba Province, Argentina, which has a temperate climate with rainy summers and dry winters (Cwa). The climate in Argentina changes the external characteristics of the plant but the fruit keeps its original characteristics.

Considerable research supports the health-giving benefits of consuming olives, olive leaf and olive oil (see external links below for research results). The olive tree provides leaves, fruit and oil. Olive leaves are used in medicinal teas.

Olives are now being looked at for use as a renewable energy source, using waste produced from the olive plants as an energy source that produces 2.5 times the energy generated by burning the same amount of wood. The smoke released has no negative impact on neighbors or the environment, and the ash left in the stove can be used for fertilizing gardens and plants. The process has been patented in the Middle East and the US.

Growth And Propagation

Olive trees show a marked preference for calcareous soils, flourishing best on limestone slopes and crags, and coastal climate conditions. They tolerate drought well, thanks to their sturdy and extensive root system. Olive trees can be exceptionally long-lived, up to several centuries, and can remain productive for as long, provided they are pruned correctly and regularly.

The olive tree grows very slowly, but over many years the trunk can attain a considerable diameter. A. P. de Candolle recorded one exceeding 10 m in girth. The trees rarely exceed 15 m in height, and are generally confined to much more limited dimensions by frequent pruning. The yellow or light greenish-brown wood is often finely veined with a darker tint; being very hard and close-grained, it is valued by woodworkers.

The olive is propagated in various ways, but cuttings or layers are generally preferred; the tree roots easily in favourable soil and throws up suckers from the stump when cut down. However, yields from trees grown from suckers or seeds are poor; it must be budded or grafted onto other specimens to do well (Lewington and Parker, 114). Branches of various thickness cut into lengths of about 1 m and planted deeply in manured ground, soon vegetate. Shorter pieces are sometimes laid horizontally in shallow trenches and, when covered with a few centimetres of soil, rapidly throw up sucker-like shoots. In Greece, grafting the cultivated tree on the wild form is a common practice. In Italy, embryonic buds, which form small swellings on the stems, are carefully excised and planted beneath the surface, where they grow readily, their buds soon forming a vigorous shoot. 

Occasionally the larger boughs are marched, and young trees thus soon obtained. The olive is also sometimes raised from seed, the oily pericarp being first softened by slight rotting, or soaking in hot water or in an alkaline solution, to facilitate germination.

Where the olive is carefully cultivated, as in Languedoc and Provence, the trees are regularly pruned. The pruning preserves the flower-bearing shoots of the preceding year, while keeping the tree low enough to allow the easy gathering of the fruit. The spaces between the trees are regularly fertilized. The crop from old trees is sometimes enormous, but they seldom bear well two years in succession, and in many instances a large harvest can only be reckoned upon every sixth or seventh season.

A calcareous soil, however dry or poor, seems best adapted to its healthy development, though the tree will grow in any light soil, and even on clay if well drained; but, as remarked by Pliny, the plant is more liable to disease on rich soils, and the oil is inferior to the produce of the poorer and more rocky ground.

In general, a temperature below 14 °F (-10 °C) may cause considerable injury to a mature tree, but (with the exception of juvenile trees) a temperature of 16 °F (-9 °C) will normally cause no harm.

Harvest And Processing

Olives are harvested in the fall. More specifically, green olives are picked at the end of September to about the middle of November. Blond olives are picked from the middle of October to the end of November and Black olives are collected from the middle of November to the end of January or early February. Some Italian and Greek olives are harvested by hand, as the terrain can be mountainous which inhibits harvesting by machine. As a result, the fruit is not bruised which leads to a superior finished product. Furthermore, the fact that branches are sawn off as part of the method of hand harvesting ensures the health of the tree for future production.

Most olives today are harvested by shaking the boughs or the whole tree. Another method involves standing on a ladder and “milking” the olives into a sack tied around the harvester’s waist. Using olives found lying on the ground can result in poor quality oil.

In southern Europe the olive harvest is in winter, continuing for several weeks, but the time varies in each country, and also with the season and the kinds cultivated. A device called the oli-net wraps around the trunk of the tree and opens to form an umbrella-like catcher; workers can then harvest the fruit without the weight of the load around their neck. Another device, the oliviera, is an electric tool that connects to a battery. The oliviera has large tongs that are spun around quickly, removing fruit from the tree. This method is used for olives used for oil. Table olive varieties are more difficult to harvest, as workers must take care not to damage the fruit; baskets that hang around the worker’s neck are used.

The amount of oil contained in the fruit differs greatly in the various cultivars; the pericarp is usually 60–70% oil. Typical yields are 1.5-2.2 kg of oil per tree per year.

Traditional Fermentation And Curing

With one exception (Thassos Olives), olives are inedible when picked from the tree. This is due to the glucoside in their flesh, which makes them taste extremely bitter. To remove this glucoside and render the olive edible, the fruit must be cured.

Olives freshly picked from the tree contain phenolic compounds and oleuropein, a glycoside which makes the fruit unpalatable for immediate consumption. There are many ways of processing olives for table use. Traditional methods use the natural microflora on the fruit and procedures which select for those that bring about fermentation of the fruit. This fermentation leads to three important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds; the creation of lactic acid, which is a natural preservative; and a complex of flavoursome fermentation products. The result is a product which will store with or without refrigeration.

One basic fermentation method is to get food grade containers, which may include plastic containers from companies which trade in olives and preserved vine leaves. Many bakeries also recycle food grade plastic containers which are well sized for olive fermentation; they are 10 to 20 litres in capacity. Freshly picked olives are often sold at markets in 10 kg trays. Olives should be selected for their firmness if green and general good condition. Olives can be used green, ripe green (which is a yellower shade of green, or green with hints of colour), through to full purple black ripeness. The olives are soaked in water to wash them, and drained. 7 litres (which is 7 kg) of room temperature water is added to the fermentation container, and 800 g of sea salt, and one cup (300 g) of white vinegar (white wine or cider vinegar). The salt is dissolved to create a 10% solution (the 800 g of salt is in an 8 kg mixture of salt and water and vinegar). Each olive is given a single deep slit with a small knife (if small), or up to three slits per fruit (if large, e.g., 60 fruit per kg). If 10 kg of olives are added to the 10% salt solution, the ultimate salinity after some weeks will be around 5 to 6% once the water in the olives moves into solution and the salt moves into the olives. The olives are weighed down with an inert object such as a plate so they are fully immersed and lightly sealed in their container. The light sealing is to allow the gases of fermentation to escape. It is also possible to make a plastic bag partially filled with water, and lay this over the top as a venting lid which also provides a good seal. The exclusion of oxygen is useful but not as critical as when grapes are fermented to produce wine. The olives can be tasted at any time as the bitter compounds are not poisonous, and oleuropein is a useful antioxidant in the human diet.

The olives are edible within 2 weeks to a month, but can be left to cure for up to three months. Green olives will usually be firmer in texture after curing than black olives.

There are several methods via which olives can be cured: lye-curing, salt-curing, brine-curing and fresh water-curing. Lye-curing, an unnatural method, is the one resulting in the worst taste as it leeches much of the fruits’ flavor. Salt-curing (also known as dry-curing) involves packing the olives in plain salt for minimum of a month, which produces a salty and wrinkled olive. Olives are placed in a water and salt solution for a few days or more as a part of the of brine-curing process. Fresh-water curing involves soaking the olives in a succession of baths, of which the water is changed daily.

Olives can be flavoured by soaking them in various marinades, or removing the pit and stuffing them. Herbs, spices, olive oil, feta, capsicum (pimento), chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic cloves, wine, vinegar, juniper berries, and anchovies are popular flavourings. Sometimes the olives are lightly cracked with a hammer or a stone to trigger fermentation. This method of curing adds a slightly bitter taste.

Recipes:

Olives are basically used in Pizza toppings, pastas, salads or sandwiches and burgers. So in Ayesha’s Kitchen a huge number of recipes are given which contains mushrooms:

Sevayyan (Sawayyan) (Vermicelli Pudding)(without Khoya)

This is a traditional sweet dish which is made up of nuts and milk and is speciaaly served on Eid – Ul – Fitr in South Asia. Eid – Ul – Fitr is a religious Muslim Event which is celebrated on 1st Of Shawwal according to the Islamic Calendar. Its joyous and a Festive event. My grandma always make this For us on Eid …

Ingredients:

  • ½ pk of thin sevayyan (Vermicelli)
  •  ¾ cup sugar or to taste
  • 10 cups milk
  • 1 cup sliced pistachios and almonds
  • 4 sultanas
  • ½ tspn cardamom seeds
  • Some sliced pistachios and almonds For garnishing

Procedure:

-Boil cardamom seeds and sultanas in milk and add vermicelli and nuts.

-Stir Frequently until the vermicelli is boiled and mixed in milk.

-Pour this in a deep bowl and garnish with some pistachios and almonds.

-Refrigerate.

-Scoop and serve.

Outcome:

Tasty and traditional sweet dish For Eid (a Muslim Event) is ready.

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Tips:

-Stir well and do not let it stick to the bottom of the pan.

Servings:

This will serve 4 – 6 persons easily.

Kheer

Kheer is one of the tastiest South Asian sweet dish which is scented with cardamom and other nuts. Its Awesome, you must try this …

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of sugar or to taste
  • 1 cup sliced pistachios and almonds
  • 8 sultanas or kishmish
  • 1 tbspn cardamom seeds
  • 2 cups rice (soaked)
  • Some sliced almonds and pistachios For garnishing

Procedure:

-Boil milk and cardamom seeds together and add sugar.

-Crush soaked rice roughly and add them into boiling milk.

-Stir Frequently because once the rice stick to the surface of the utensil, milk catches a very pungent burnt smell, so beware of that because it will spoil your whole dish.

-Boil rice in milk with constant stirring. Add all the nuts and dry Fruits in it.

-Stir, stir and stir, boil, boil and boil.

-When it begins to thicken, remove From heat and take it out in a nice deep dish.

-Garnish with some nuts and refrigerate For 2 hours.

-Scoop and serve.

Outcome:

Tasty kheer is ready to be served.

DSC01916

Tips:

-Stir Frequently after adding all the things because once the rice stick to the surface of the utensil, milk catches a very pungent burnt smell, so beware of that because it will spoil your whole dish.

Servings:

This will serve 4 persons easily.

Fruit Of The Week MANGO

mangoes

Mangoes belong to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is indigenous to the Indian Subcontinent. Cultivated in many tropical regions and distributed widely in the world, mango is one of the most extensively exploited fruits for food, juice, flavor, fragrance and color, making it a common ingredient in new functional foods often called superfruits. Its leaves are ritually used as floral decorations at weddings and religious ceremonies. It is also the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Etymology

The word mango comes from the Portuguese manga, which is probably derived from the Malayalam മാങ്ങ (māṅṅa; pronounced “manga”). The word’s first recorded attestation in a European language was a text by Ludovico di Varthema in Italian in 1510, as Manga; the first recorded occurrences in languages such as French and post-classical Latin appear to be translations from this Italian text. The origin of the -o ending in English is unclear.

Description

Mango trees (Mangifera indica L.) reach 35–40 m in height, with a crown radius of 10 m. The tree is long-lived with some specimens known to be over 300 years old and still fruiting. In deep soil the taproot descends to a depth of 20 feet, and the profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots also send down many anchor roots which penetrate for several feet. The leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple, 15–35 cm long and 6–16 cm broad; when the leaves are young they are orange-pink, rapidly changing to a dark glossy red, then dark green as they mature. The flowers are produced in terminal panicles 10–40 cm long; each flower is small and white with five petals 5–10 mm long, with a mild sweet odor suggestive of lily of the valley. The fruit takes from three to six months to ripen.

The ripe fruit is variable in size and color, and may be yellow, orange, red or green when ripe, depending on the cultivar.When ripe, the unpeeled fruit gives off a distinctive resinous sweet smell. In its center is a single flat oblong seed that can be fibrous or hairy on the surface, depending on the cultivar. Inside the seed coat 1–2 mm thick is a thin lining covering a single embryo, 4–7 cm long, 3–4 cm wide, and 1 cm thick.

Cultivation And Uses

Mangoes have been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years and reached East Asia between the 5th-4th century BC. By the 10th century AD, they were transported to East Africa and subsequently introduced to Brazil, West Indies and Mexico, where climate allows its appropriate growth. The 14th century Muslim traveler, Ibn Battuta, reported it at Mogadishu. Mango is now cultivated as a fruit tree in frost-free tropical and warmer subtropical climates like that of the Indian subcontinent; nearly half of the world’s mangoes are cultivated in India alone.

Other regions where mango is cultivated include North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, south, west and central Africa, Australia, China, Pakistan and Southeast Asia. It is easily cultivated yielding more than 1,000 cultivars, ranging from the “turpentine mango” (named for its strong taste of turpentine, which according to the Oxford Companion to Food some varieties actually contain) to the huevos de toro (“eggs of the bull”, a euphemism for “bull’s testicles”, referring to the shape and size).

Nicknamed “king of mangoes”, the Alphonso grown mainly in Devgad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri Districts of Maharashtra, India and favored there, is now popular in the United States. Though India is the largest producer of mangoes in the world, it accounts for less than one percent of the global mango trade.

Food

A ripe mango is sweet, with a unique taste that nevertheless varies from variety to variety. The texture of the flesh varies between cultivars, some having a soft, pulpy texture similar to an over-ripe plum, while others have firmer flesh like a cantaloupe or avocado. In some cultivars, the flesh has a fibrous texture.

A pack of amchur (or dry mango) powder in India.Mango lassi [mango smoothie] is very popular in Indian restaurants in some countries.

Indian Cuisine

In western recipes of ‘Chutney’, ripe mangoes are often used, but chutney in the Indian subcontinent is usually made with sour, unripe mangoes and hot chilis or limes.

In India, ripe mangoes are often cut into thin layers, desiccated, folded, and then cut. These bars, known as aampapdi,’ amavat or halva in Hindi, are similar to dried guava fruit bars available in Colombia. In many parts of India, people eat squeezed mango juice (called ras) on a variety of bread. This is part of the meal rather than a dessert. Unripe mangoes (which are extremely sour) are eaten with salt, and in regions where food is hotter, with salt and chili.

In Kerala, ripe mangoes are used in a dish called mambazha kaalan.

In Maharashtra,moramba (a kind of preserve, made from jaggery and mango) and aamrus (Pulp/Thick Juice made of mangoes, with a bit of sugar if needed and milk at times) are famous. A spicy, sweet and sour semi-liquid side-dish called meth-amba is made from unripe mango slices called kairi, jaggery and fenugreek seeds. They can be enjoyed with poories and polies, like jam.

In India mango is used as pickle (aachar), amawat, murraba, amchur, sukhawata & chatni or chutney.

During the hot summer months, a cooling summer drink called panha (in Marathi) and panna (across north India) is made with raw mango. Mango lassi is made by adding mango pulp to the North Indian yoghurt drink lassi.

The fruit is also used in a variety of cereal products, in particular muesli and oat granola. 

Dried and powdered unripe mango is known as amchur (sometimes spelled amchoor) in India and ambi in Urdu. Amb is a Sindhi, aamba a Marathi, and aam a Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Bengali word for ‘mango’.

Non – Indian Cuisine

In the Philippines, unripe mango is eaten with bagoong. Dried strips of sweet, ripe mango are also popular, with those from Cebu exported worldwide. Guimaras produces a delicious mango.

Freshly harvested mangoes and bananas at a fruit stand on the island of Maui, Hawaii.In Mexico, mango is used to make juices, smoothies, ice cream, fruit bars, raspados, aguas frescas, pies and sweet chili sauce, or mixed with chamoy, a sweet and spicy chili paste. It is popular on a stick dipped in hot chili powder and salt or also as a main ingredient in fresh fruit combinations.

Pieces of mango can be mashed and used as a topping on ice cream or blended with milk and ice as milkshakes. In Thailand and other South East Asian countries, sweet glutinous rice is flavored with coconut then served with sliced mango as a dessert.

In other parts of South-east Asia, mangoes are pickled with fish sauce and rice vinegar. Green mangoes can be used in mango salad with fish sauce and dried schrimps.

In Taiwan, mango is a topping that can be added to shaved ice along with condensed milk.

The sweet bell pepper (capsicum) was once known as mango in parts of the United States.

In Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica), mango is either eaten green with salt, pepper and hot sauce, or ripe in various forms. Only in Costa Rica, ripe mangoes are called manga to differentiate them. In Guatemala, toasted and ground pumpkin seed (called Pepita) with lime and salt are the norm when eating green mangoes.

Production And Consumption

Mangoes account for approximately fifty percent of all tropical fruits produced worldwide. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates worldwide production of mangoes at more than 23 million tons in 2001.With 12 million tons produced annually (2002–3 data), India accounts for almost half of the world production, followed by China (3 million tons), Pakistan (2.25 million tons), Mexico (1.5 million tons) and Thailand (1.35 million tons). The aggregate production of 10 countries is responsible for roughly 80% of the entire world mango production.

Alphonso, Benishan or Benishaan (Banganpalli in Telugu and Tamil) and Kesar mango varieties are considered among the best mangoes in the Southern states whereas Dussehri and Langda varieties are most popular in the Northern states of India. Commonly exported, the Alphonso cultivar is grown exclusively in the Konkan region of Maharashtra.[citation needed. Alphonso is named after Afonso De Albuquerque who reputedly brought the drupe on his journeys to Goa.[citation needed] The locals took to calling this Aphoos in Konkani and in Maharashtra the pronunciation got further corrupted to Hapoos. This variety then was taken to the Konkan region of Maharashtra and other parts of India. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states in the south, Gujarat in western India, and Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north are major producers of mangoes harvested especially to make spicy mango pickles having regional differences in taste. In Pakistan the popular mangoes are the Sindhri and Chaunsa, besides other varieties like Langra, Anwar Ratoal and Malva. The Sindhri mango is primarily produced in the province of Sindh and can measure up to half a foot in length. It is generally considered one of the best mangoes in the world.[citation needed] Generally, once ripe, mangoes have an orange-yellow or reddish peel and are juicy for eating while those intended for export are often picked while under-ripe with green peels. Although producing ethylene while ripening, unripened exported mangoes do not have the same juiciness or flavor as fresh fruit.

Native green mangoes from the Philippines.Mangoes are popular throughout Latin America. In Mexico, sliced mango is eaten with chili powder and/or salt. Street vendors sell whole mangoes on a stick, dipped in the chili-salt mixture. In Indonesia and Thailand, green mango is sold by street vendors with sugar and salt and/or chili, or used in a sour salad called rujak or rojak in Malaysia and Singapore. Ayurveda considers ripe mango sweet and heating, balancing all three doshas (humors), while also providing energy. Powdered raw mango is a condiment in various cuisines.

Like other drupaceous fruits, mangoes come in both freestone and clingstone varieties.

Recipe:

Ayesha’s Kitchen is the best place to Find Mango Recipes:

Vegetable Of The Week TOMATO

tomato

The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum, syn. Lycopersicon lycopersicum & Lycopersicon esculentum) is a herbaceous, usually sprawling plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are its close cousins potatoes, chili peppers, tobacco, eggplant and the poisonous belladonna. It is a perennial, often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual. Typically reaching to 1–3 metres (3–10 ft) in height, it has a weak, woody stem that often vines over other plants. The leaves are 10–25 centimetres (4–10 in) long, odd pinnate, with 5–9 leaflets on petioles, each leaflet up to 8 centimetres (3 in) long, with a serrated margin; both the stem and leaves are densely glandular-hairy. The flowers are 1–2 centimetres (0.4–0.8 in) across, yellow, with five pointed lobes on the corolla; they are borne in a cyme of 3–12 together.

The tomato is native to South America. Genetic evidence shows that the progenitors of tomatoes were herbaceous green plants with small green fruit with a center of diversity in the highlands of Peru. These early Solanums diversified into the dozen or so species of tomato recognized today. One species, Solanum lycopersicum, was transported to Mexico where it was grown and consumed by prehistoric humans. The exact date of domestication is not known. Evidence supports the theory the first domesticated tomato was a little yellow fruit, ancestor of L. cerasiforme, grown by the Aztecs of Central Mexico who called it xitomatl (pronounced [ʃiːˈtomatɬ]), meaning plump thing with a navel, and later called tomatl by other Mesoamerican peoples. Aztec writings mention tomatoes were prepared with peppers, corn and salt, likely to be the original salsa recipe.

Some people believe that the Spanish explorer Cortez may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtítlan , now Mexico City in 1521. Yet others believe Christopher Columbus, an Italian working for the Spanish monarchy, was the first European to take back the tomato, earlier in 1493. The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in an herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, an Italian physician and botanist, who named it pomi d’oro, golden apple.

The word tomato comes from a word in the Nahuatl language, tomatl. The specific name, lycopersicum, means “wolf-peach” (compare the related species Solanum lycocarpum, whose scientific name means “wolf-fruit”, common name “wolf-apple”), as they are a major food of wild canids in South America.

Cultivation And Uses

The tomato is now grown worldwide for its edible fruits, with thousands of cultivars having been selected with varying fruit types, and for optimum growth in differing growing conditions. Cultivated tomatoes vary in size from tomberries, about 5mm in diameter, through cherry tomatoes, about the same 1–2 centimetres (0.4–0.8 in) size as the wild tomato, up to “beefsteak” tomatoes 10 centimetres (4 in) or more in diameter. The most widely grown commercial tomatoes tend to be in the 5–6 centimetres (2.0–2.4 in) diameter range. Most cultivars produce red fruit; but a number of cultivars with yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, black, or white fruit are also available. Multicolored and striped fruit can also be quite striking. Tomatoes grown for canning and sauces are often elongated, 7–9 centimetres (3–4 in) long and 4–5 centimetres (1.6–2.0 in) diameter; they are known as plum tomatoes, and have a lower water content. Roma-type tomatoes are important cultivars in the Sacramento Valley where a 120-acre Morning Star cannery handles 1.2 million pounds of tomatoes an hour during the harvest season where the fields yield about 40 tons to the acre.

Tomatoes are one of the most common garden fruits in the United States and, along with zucchini, have a reputation for outproducing the needs of the grower.

As in most sectors of agriculture, there is increasing demand in developed countries for organic tomatoes, as well as heirloom tomatoes, to make up for flavor and texture faults in commercial tomatoes. Quite a few seed merchants and banks provide a large selection of heirloom seeds. Tomato seeds are occasionally organically produced as well, but only a small percentage of organic crop area is grown with organic seed[citation needed]. The definition of an heirloom tomato is vague, but unlike commercial hybrids, all are self-pollinators who have bred true for 40 years or more.

Picking And Ripening

Tomatoes are often picked unripe (and thus colored green) and ripened in storage with ethylene. Unripe tomatoes are firm, as they ripen they soften until reaching the ripe state where they are red or orange in color and slightly soft to the touch. Ethylene is a hydrocarbon gas produced by many fruits that acts as the molecular cue to begin the ripening process. Tomatoes ripened in this way tend to keep longer but have poorer flavor and a mealier, starchier texture than tomatoes ripened on the plant. They may be recognized by their color, which is more pink or orange than the other ripe tomatoes’ deep red.

In 1994 Calgene introduced a genetically modified tomato called the ‘FlavrSavr’ which could be vine ripened without compromising shelf life. However, the product was not commercially successful (see main article for details) and was only sold until 1997.

Recently, stores have begun selling “tomatoes on the vine”, which are determinate varieties that are ripened or harvested with the fruits still connected to a piece of vine. These tend to have more flavor than artificially ripened tomatoes (at a price premium), but still may not be the equal of local garden produce.

Slow-ripening cultivars of tomato have been developed by crossing a non-ripening cultivar with ordinary tomato cultivars. Cultivars were selected whose fruits have a long shelf life and at least reasonable flavor.

Modern Uses And Nutrition

Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other things. They contain lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants, which, especially when tomatoes are cooked, has been found to help prevent prostate cancer. However, other research contradicts this claim. Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays. Natural genetic variation in tomatoes and their wild relatives has given a genetic treasure trove of genes that produce lycopene, carotene, anthocyanin, and other antioxidants. Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C (Doublerich), 40 times normal vitamin A (97L97), high levels of anthocyanin (P20 Blue), and two to four times the normal amount of lycopene (numerous available cultivars with the high crimson gene).

Though it is botanically a berry, a subset of fruit, the tomato is nutritionally categorized as a vegetable (see below). Since “vegetable” is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in a plant part being a fruit botanically while still being considered a vegetable.

Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The tomato is acidic; this acidity makes tomatoes especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce, or paste. Tomato juice is often canned and sold as a beverage; Unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often by sun, and sold either in bags or in jars in oil.

Storage

Most tomatoes today are picked before fully ripened. They are bred to continue ripening, but the enzyme that ripens tomatoes stops working when it reaches temperatures below 12.5°C (54.5°F). Once an unripe tomato drops below that temperature, it will not continue to ripen. Once fully ripe, tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator but are best kept at room temperature. Tomatoes stored in the refrigerator tend to lose flavor, but will still be edible; thus the “Never Refrigerate” stickers sometimes placed on tomatoes in supermarkets.

Fruit or vegetable?

Botanically, a tomato is the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant: therefore it is a fruit. However, the tomato is not as sweet as those foodstuffs usually called fruits and, from a culinary standpoint, it is typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, as are vegetables, rather than at dessert in the case of most fruits. As noted above, the term vegetable has no botanical meaning and is purely a culinary term. Originally the controversy was that tomatoes are treated as a fruit in home canning practices. Tomatoes are acidic enough to be processed in a water bath rather than a pressure cooker as “vegetables” require.

This argument has had legal implications in the United States. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables but not on fruits caused the tomato’s status to become a matter of legal importance. The U.S. Supreme Court settled the controversy on May 10, 1893 by declaring that the tomato is a vegetable, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert (Nix v. Hedden (149 U.S. 304)). The holding of the case applies only to the interpretation of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, and the court did not purport to reclassify the tomato for botanical or other purpose. Tomatoes have been designated the state vegetable of New Jersey. Arkansas took both sides by declaring the “South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato” to be both the state fruit and the state vegetable in the same law, citing both its culinary and botanical classifications. In 2006, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a law that would have declared the tomato to be the official state fruit, but the bill died when the Ohio Senate failed to act on it. However, in April 2009 a new form of the bill passed, making the tomato the official fruit of the state of Ohio. Tomato juice has been the official beverage of Ohio since 1965. A.W. Livingston, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, played a large part in popularizing the tomato in the late 1800s.

Due to the scientific definition of a fruit, the tomato remains a fruit when not dealing with US tariffs. Nor is it the only culinary vegetable that is a botanical fruit: eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes of all kinds (such as zucchini and pumpkins) share the same ambiguity.

Recipes:

Ayesha’s Kitchen is the best place to Find the recipes containing Tomatoes.

Margherita

Margherita Pizza is ideal For cheese lovers, it is awesome …

Ingredients:

  • One thin crust pizza base
  • 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • ½ tspn oregano
  • 6 tbspns pizza sauce/ chunky tomato sauce/ traditional pasta sauce

Procedure:

-Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius For 20 minutes before baking.

-Prepare a pizza base and apply some olive oil on its sides.

-Spread pizza sauce all over and sprinkle mozzarella cheese too. Top it with a little bit of oregano and bake on the middle rack, in a preheated oven For 10 – 20 minutes on 190 degrees Celsius.

-Take it out and let it settle, slice and serve.

Outcome:

Simple yet tasty Margherita is ready to be served.

DSC01668

Tips:

-This is ideal For thin crust pizza lovers.

Servings:

This will serve 2 – 4 persons easily.