Ah, the tomato. Ever loved and nearly an every day staple in one way or another for most Americans, it’s life was not always so reputable. Once called the “poison apple”, folks in the 1700’s truly thought the tomato was killing them. Most likely, the source of their scourge was the lead in their pewter dinnerware, but once you get a bad rap, it’s hard to overcome. For a bit, it was believed that if you ate tomatoes that were grown in hot parts of the world you’d be ok – after all the Aztecs hadn’t keeled over dead and they’d been eating the “tomatl” for nearly a thousand years. In the 1800’s the already seedy tomato (sorry) got another knock to its reputation. As is often the case, you are judged by the people you choose to hang around with, and this time, the tomato’s buddy, the tomato worm, got the duo into more hot water. Farmers who were just trying to get past all of the rumor and skepticism about that tempting red fruit suddenly found poison spewing snakes in their tomatoes! Indeed, these were not snakes, but the somewhat startling but innocuous tomato worms. For a society that was well versed in what snakes in the gardens of the apple-looking tomatoes was all about, that was enough to set the tomato back another few years. So what do historians believe was the final salvation of the tomato? The pizza. Cheesy, hot pizza. Sometimes, when it’s THAT good, you just have to look the other way and say…bring it on!
Wish I could take full credit for all of this story, but I can’t. If you’re so inclined, please click the link below to read more about the fun history of the tomato.
Proper storage of tomatoes is probably one of the most essential keys to enjoying your summer crop to its best advantage. Tomatoes, off vine, will continue to ripen – and in fact, many a farmer would advise you to leave your tomatoes on a windowsill for a day or two before you eat them. Sub Edge tomatoes are picked at the height of ripeness, and while unnecessary, you might find your tomatoes just a bit more juicy if they are left on a counter to ripen a few more days after you pick them up. Never store uncut tomatoes in the refrigerator, as the cold will begin to break down the fibers inside the tomato leaving you with a mealy tasting mess.
Tomatoes should be cut with a serrated, or bread, knife. The rough teeth of the blade will help pierce the skin of the tomato without bruising the delicate flesh below. Don’t let all that precious juice that is left after you cut a tomato behind. Scrape it off into your salad dressing for a bit more yummm value in your salad.