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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One Tomato, Two Tomato

          Fresh, vine-ripened, wholesome goodness of TOMATOES have wonderful health benefits when prepared the right way. They are low in calories, fat-free, and contain as much Vitamin C as a glass of milk. Tomatoes are so versatile they can be used in almost any style of cooking. The same beta-carotene that's found in carrots are also found in tomatoes, which means they are great for your skin. Plus, beta-carotene helps protect you from the sun's harmful UV rays, so, you don't get wrinkles. Tomatoes also provide you with lycopene which helps you build strong bones, bone mass, and this can help prevent osteoporosis. They keep your blood sugar in check and with the lycopene it's a natural cancer fighter. 

       There are five different types of tomatoes: PEAR, ROMA, GLOBE/BEEFSTEAK, CHERRY, and HEIRLOOM. HEIRLOOM are becoming really popular in restaurants because they have so many different shapes and colors. Their shelf life is the shortest, but their ability to grow in almost any environment and have a resistance to disease and insects,make them  perfect for tomato lovers. PEAR tomatoes (which are part of the HEIRLOOM family) gets its name from the shape. They are slightly larger than CHERRY, but have a lower juice content. For this reason, PEAR tomatoes are eaten raw or used as a garnish or in drinks. CHERRY tomatoes are sweeter in flavor and are found in small clusters on the vine. CHERRY tomatoes are a smaller version of GLOBE. GLOBE tomatoes or BEEFSTEAK   tomatoes are the best to slice. They are large and round (like a globe) and the can grow to be as large as two pounds. Mild in flavor, GLOBE tomatoes are common in salads, burgers, and other recipes, but can be grown to be yellow or green. ROMA tomatoes or Italian tomatoes are used in just that. Italian recipes. Lots and lots of marinara sauce!! Room temperature tomatoes are best because refrigeration can change the flavor complex. ROMA are great when they have a firm skin, bright red in color without any brown spots and are smooth to the touch. 

        Finally, when you get ready to prepare your tomato dishes, make sure to wash them and leave as much of the skin on as possible to not lose the vitamin content. Pizzas, sauces, and salads would be nothing without this amazing fruit!! Enjoy them with a little mozzarella or fried and green for a "southern comfort".  Savor every and all "TASTY BITES"!!

-Chef Tara L. Browning

P.S.- I've found a link provided below that gives you 24 great southern inspired recipes for your tomato bounty!! ENJOY!!  =)