Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Tomatoes from
the Barren County Farmers' Market

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Tomatoes are probably one of the most popular vegetables even though at one time they were considered to be poison. It’s a member of the nightshade family and is a relative of potatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

The word tomato is derived from the ancient Mayan word “xtomatl.” As with other members of its family, the tomato was brought to the rest of the world from South America.

There are hundreds of cultivated tomato varieties and this includes many heirloom varieties that have been grown for generations.

All tomatoes can be classified by various types: cherry, grape, beefsteak, plum (paste), slicing, and pear tomatoes based on their size, shape, and color and other specifics.

Selecting a quality product

Except for beefsteak and heirloom varieties which can be mishapen at times, look for tomatoes that are well-formed, smooth, and free from blemishes. Heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes will likely be more irregular in shape and color than the other varieties.

A true vine ripened tomatoes will have a sweet aroma but just because a tomato is called "vine ripe" doesn't make it so. In Florida for instance, the term "Vine Ripe" can legally be applied to any tomato that has started to ripen and has the pinkish star at the blossom end. These are usually then sprayed with a naturally occurring gas that convinces the vegetable that it is ripe even though it is not. It will not have that nice tomato smell and can actually be fried like any other green tomato because, that is what it really is!

The term "Home grown" is also nothing to go by. Most consumers think this means "Locally Grown." You will find this term in the middle of the winter when you know there are no local tomatoes in your neighborhood.

It IS possible to get tomatoes grown in local greenhouses that were picked AFTER they ripened on the vine beyond the point of the pink star. If they have not been picked green and gassed as mentioned above, these can be fairly good.

The same goes for "Hydroponically grown" tomatoes. They can be good, too, if not gassed and picked ripe.

Some people think that the tomatoes that come from warmer regions in the winter are "hot house" or "greenhouse" tomatoes and think that is why they have no taste. This is not true. For example, people in Florida would laugh to hear someone call them that. If you have ever been to Florida you would know a greenhouse is not necessary because it is HOT there. In fact, plants in a greenhouse there would simply burn up. The fact is, most of the tomatoes are gassed as explained above. They will not have any more taste than a green tomato. It's that simple.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Avoid tomatoes that have bruises, green or yellow areas, large growth cracks, or water-soaked spots.

Tips on Storage

Tomatoes should never be refrigerated. Refrigerating tomatoes will damage the fruit, change the texture and therefore the taste. To ripen unripe fruit, place it in a paper bag out of direct sunlight. Tomatoes can be frozen or dehydrated to preserve the sweet, succulent flavor for winter.

Tips on cooking

Wash tomatoes in cold water and remove the stem end prior to use. You may peel the tomatoes if desired. There’s a wide variety of ways to use tomatoes ranging from baking, broiling or grilling, raw in salads, soups, stews, casseroles, salsa, on sandwiches, and just about any other way you can imagine serving them.

Ways to use:

Pick one fresh and eat it while standing in the sun
In many kinds of salads
Stuffed tomatoes
Tomato catsup
Cherry tomatoes go great on Shish kebobs
Roasted and then pureed with peppers in a soup

About Heirloom Tomatoes

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Marizol Purple, Arkansas Traveler, Candy Stripe, Mortgage Lifter, Brandywine, Russian Rose, Hillbilly Potato Leaf. Heirloom tomatoes have some interesting names as well as interesting backgrounds when known. Such as the Mortgage Lifter. A man developed these plants by crossing several others for several years before he came up with a plant that was not only stable but that grew huge, delicious tomatoes. He sold these plants and within a few years was able to pay off his mortgage.

Heirloom tomatoes are a part of our heritage. They are the tomatoes that our ancestors brought over and planted and replanted year after year and passed down to new generations. In other words, they are tried and true. Farmers will also tell you that when you save your own seed from year to year, the plants will adjust to your location and do better. Another good reason to keep your own seed.

To be considered an heirloom, a tomato must have been grown from seed that has produced the same variety of tomato going back several generations (at least until 1940). They are considered to be "open pollinated," meaning you can keep the seed from them from one year to another and - unless they were crossed with something else, they will produce the same tomato year after year.

Since the people that brought them came from all over the world there are all kinds, shapes, colors and sizes of them to choose from. What is most attractive to people about the heirlooms is not their looks, some of them look pretty bad and get all "culled" up as it is called. That is a characteristic of many of them but putting up with an ugly tomato is nothing when you taste them. Sweet, summer, goodness. This is not your wintertime gassed, tasteless mess. This is tomato heaven.

And because they "cull up" so badly, it is hard to grow ones that are nice enough for market and that is why they usually cost more. They are harder to grow and produce less than hybrids.

Heirlooms stand out for their complexity and variety of flavor. Some are rich and sweet, others tart and refreshing. Some are quite juicy while others are firm and meaty. Color really does predict flavor: orange and yellow tomatoes taste sweetest because they are lowest in acid; dark red, pink, purple and black tomatoes usually have a good balance between sugar and acid, while green and white tomatoes will taste more tart because of their high acid content.


Crispy Chicken With Parmesan Tomatoes

Yield: 2 Servings

1/2 c seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp parsley; chopped
1 sm garlic clove; minced
1 olive or salad oil
1 coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp dijon style mustard
2 lg chicken breast halves; w/skin and bones
3 md plum tomatoes; about 3/4 lb
2 tbsp parmesan cheese; grated
1 tsp dried oregano leaves crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch watercress
Bottled olive oil and vinegar salad dressing

About 50 minutes before serving:
Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, chopped parsley, minced garlic, 2 ts of the olive or salad oil, and 1/4 ts of the pepper, blending well. Brush the Dijon style mustard onto the skin side of the chicken-breast halves, then coat with the bread crumb mixture, firmly pressing the coating mixture into the chicken. Spray an 11 X 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Place the chicken, skin side up, in the baking dish. Bake the chicken, without turning, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut each tomato, lengthwise, in half. On waxed paper, mix the Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and 1/4 ts of black pepper, stirring to mix well. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the tomato halves. Add the tomatoes to the chicken in the baking dish and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the coating on the chicken is crispy and browned and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with the tip of a knife.

To Serve: Toss the watercress with the salad dressing. Arrange the tomatoes, chicken and the salad on 2 plates.

Tomato Pancakes #1

4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes with liquid, (14˝-oz.)
    OR 2 cups home-canned tomatoes
40 saltines hand crushed - not rolled out
salt to taste
butter for frying

Combine the beaten eggs, tomatoes and their liquid, crackers and salt. Shape into 4-inch pancakes and fry in a small amount of butter (over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side). Makes about 12 (4-in.) pancakes.

NOTES : Hand-crushing the crackers gives the pancakes an interesting nonuniform texture.

Tomato Pancakes #2

8 medium tomatoes
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2-1/2 cups cracker crumbs

Peel and mash tomatoes. Add soda, eggs and crumbs. Fry like pancakes in a hot skillet. Serve with pancake syrup if desired.

Breaded Tomatoes

1 can whole tomatoes
3 - 4 slices white bread
salt and pepper to taste
Dash sugar
1 pinch baking soda

Empty can of tomatoes into pan and with a fork, mash slightly. Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and add to tomatoes along with the salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Stir well or until the bread has absorbed most of the tomato liquid. Heat, stirring occasionally, to keep from sticking. Just before serving, add a small pinch of baking soda and stir into the tomatoes.

Cold Stuffed Tomatoes

Yield: 6 Servings

6 lg tomatoes
1/3 cup cucumber; finely diced
1/3 cup onion; grated
1/3 cup green pepper; chopped
1/3 cup celery; chopped
1/3 cup cabbage; finely shredded
1/2 tsp salt
1 dash pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 dash hot sauce
1 dash curry powder
Lettuce leaves

Wash tomatoes; place in boiling water 1 minute. Drain and immediately plunge into cold water. Gently remove skins.

With stem end up, cut each tomato into 4 wedges, cutting to, but not through base of tomato. Spread wedges slightly apart. Sprinkle inside of shells with salt. Cover and chill 1-1/2 hours.

Combine next 7 ingredients; cover and chill.

To serve, spoon filling into shells. Combine mayonnaise with hot sauce and curry powder. Top each tomato with a dollop of mayonnaise mixture. Serve on lettuce leaves.

Deviled Tomatoes

4 servings

4 firm tomatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 sm garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tb grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Fresh parsley sprigs

Preheat oven to 350'F. Grease a 9" square baking pan. Cut 1/3 slice off top of each tomato. Reserve tops for 'lids'. Remove seeds from each tomato. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add garlic, bread crumbs and chopped parsley; mix well. Remove from heat. Add cayenne pepper, paprika, mustard, cheese and salt; mix well. Spoon into tomatoes and form in neat mounds, pressing gently in shape with fingertips. Put reserved 'lids' on top. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in greased pan. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve hot,

Fried Green Tomatoes 1944

3 to 4 large firm green tomatoes Salt and pepper to taste
Oil or bacon Drippings for frying
3 eggs lightly scrambled

Mix together flour, salt and pepper. Cut tomatoes to 1/4 in thickness. Dip tomatoes into egg and then into flour, salt and pepper mixture. Place into hot oil in frying pan. Fry until you get nice golden brown color on both sides. Don't burn. Place a paper towel on a platter; Put the tomatoes on the towel to drain. (A brown bag was used in 1944 as there weren't any paper towels.) Meanwhile, add a little milk to frying pan. With a wooden spoon, scrape bottom of pan to release browned flavorings. Add some flour to milk mixture. Over low heat, stir until thickened and smooth. Place tomatoes on a plate and spoon gravy over top.

Green Tomato Pie

1 double pie crust
2 cups chopped green tomatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped raisins
3 tbsps melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Place the chopped green tomatoes with water to cover and bring to a boil. Drain and add the other filling ingredients. Place in a pie pan lined with crust, place on the top crust and make two or three slashes with a knife. Crimp the edge of the crust. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Note: you can add 1 T of flour to the mixture for thickening.

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