Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wholesome Wednesdays: Tomatoes

It's Summer! And of course in the world of homegrown vegetables that means it's 

Little Porter Improved tomatoes

I look forward to this all year, especially sometime in January when i run out of the tomatoes i cooked down and froze the summer before. (froze? freezed?) I had very few tomatoes last year due to some nasty wilts, record highs, and an absence from my garden while away getting hitched and honeymooned. This year is shaping up a bit better, but all my plants are indeterminate and eeking out their ripened tomatoes slower than molasses, all the while being sucked on by nasty leaf footed bugs. Every year i hope to have enough tomatoes to warrant a good canning session, and every year my goal is thwarted by some element out of my control. Sigh. One day i'll have a larger garden to plant large crops of determinates for canning as well as indeterminates for other cooking. One day. One day.

In the meantime, i have plenty of tasty tomatoes for eating fresh, a few for cooking down and freezing, and am loving my slimmer waistline and healthy digestive system as a result of eating fresh cucumber and tomato salads every other night.

Japanese Trifele and Porter Improved tomatoes - cracked from the fierce rains of last week

As a note: i never buy tomatoes. The few times i do buy tomatoes they come from a local farmers market, or canned. I think canned tomatoes maintain more of the quality than those strange, tasteless, firm, waxy out of system odditites found in the grocery store produce section. At least they were picked ripe, in season, and 'put by' at the peak of their good form. I like the Hunt's diced with basil - it's the one canned staple you'll always find in my cupboard, even in my own tomato season. Add to soups, use as spaggheti sauce, mix with polenta - very versatile.  Anyhoo - i never buy fresh tomatoes from teh grocery store because they just don't TASTE like tomatoes. My homegrown ones do, though!

Tomatoes are chock full of vitamin C, so it's no wonder i'm feeling perky and immune (except to mold allergies).  One of the more recently publicized elements in tomatoes, lycopene is worth its weight in marinara sauce for its healthful properties: antioxidant and anti cancer - lycopene protects the DNA from oxygen damage, thwarting nasty cancers, and is found at the highest rate in organic, dark red tomato products. Lycopene by itself is a powerful element, but is at its most effective when paired with the many other elements working in synergy found within the rosy walls of the tomato.  For a power packed anti-cancer kick pair your tomatoes with broccoli: both veggies that have excellent anti-cancer properties that work even better when working together. Check out further details on the super powers of tomatoes at World's Healthiest Foods. Scientific research included.

Little Matt's Wild cherry tomatoes peeking out from the bottom. I have several volunteer plants popped up from scattered seeds from last year's plant. They're tiny tomatoes with large tomato taste, not sweet like most cherries. I pick my tomatoes right at "blush" to help them escape bug damage and allow the plant to focus on new fruits.
Tomatoes are most definitely a super food, and delicious - but how's the caloric breakdown?  As with most fruits "a large percentage of the calories in this food come from sugars" but i think the amount of vitamins and minerals compensate for any carb surplus.
The good: This food is low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium and Manganese.    -Nutrition Data .com
At 30 or so calories for 1 cup chopped tomatoes - i feel safe putting tomatoes in everything i eat, as long as i give my mouth a break from the acidity every once in a while.

What's your favorite recipe for utilizing homegrown tomatoes?

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