Tomatoes are native to South America and were originally grown for their decorative purposes.
The tomato is actually a fruit but is considered a vegetable because of its uses. They were affectionately known as pommes d’amour by the French, or apples of love. Today consumption of fresh and processed tomatoes is second to potatoes.
All New Zealand tomatoes are ripened on the vine which makes them tastier than some imported varieties.
There is a large range of specialty and pre-packed tomatoes available. Most tomato varieties are of Dutch origin and are selected for flavour, quality, colour and size.
Tomatoes on the vine, or on the truss, are popular. Small, medium and large tomatoes are sold on the truss. There are many different vine varieties; as a general rule vine varieties have a very intense flavour.
These have a sweet intense flavour and are very popular with children. Several different varieties are on the market. Coloured red or yellow, the shape varies from round to oval to pear shaped. Small plum tomatoes are particularly sweet and higher in acid.
Plum, low acid and Roma tomatoes
These tomatoes are oval or plum shaped, have firmer flesh, fewer seeds and less juice than standard varieties, making them ideal for cooking. They come in differing shapes and sizes. Levels of acid vary with variety and no tomato is entirely acid free. Large plum varieties are often known as Roma.
These make up a very small percentage (around 1%) of the total tomato crop and tend to be less firm than greenhouse- grown tomatoes. They have a lumpier and flatter shape and tend to be available from January to April.
What to look for
Choose smooth, firm and plump tomatoes with an even colour and no blemishes. For best flavour make sure the fruits are fully red.
Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Tomatoes will ripen in these conditions. Do not refrigerate unless they are over ripe. Refrigerated tomatoes do not have the full flavour of tomatoes stored at room temperature.
How to prepare
Sometimes recipes suggest removal of the skin and seeds of the tomato for a very fine sauce, however this is not necessary for most dishes.
Ways to eat
Tomatoes are very versatile, they can be eaten raw as snacks, in salads and sandwiches. They can be used in soups, pizzas, omelettes, braises and stews. Tomatoes preserve well and are easily frozen and bottled, made into homemade sauces, chutneys, and dried or sundried. Tomatoes are complemented by many herbs, especially basil.
Boil, braise, barbecue/char grill, microwave, slow roast, stir fry.
|Serving size: 1 tomato - 127g|
|Fat, total (g)||0.5||0.7%||0.4|
|- saturated (g)||trace||0%||trace|
|- sugars (g)||3.4||4%||2.7|
|Dietary fibre (g)||1.5||5%||1.2|
|Vitamin C (mg)||30.5||76% RDI*||24.0||A good source of vitamin C|
|Vitamin A Equiv. (µg)||117||16% RDI*||92||A source of vitamin A Equiv.|
|Niacin (mg)||1.3||13% RDI*||1.0||A source of niacin|
|Potassium (mg)||305||240||Contains potassium|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.98||10% RDI*||0.77||A source of vitamin E|
|Riboflavin (mg)||trace||0% RDI*||trace|
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and a source of vitamin A (from beta-carotene), niacin and vitamin E. Tomatoes contain many different phytonutrients; the most well-known being the carotenoid lycopene, responsible for the red colour. It is of interest as it is found in few other foods and is being studied for a range of potential health benefits. Other carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, are also found together with phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Provide a variety of degrees of ripeness to suit customers’ needs. Store at 10-12°C with a relative humidity of 90-98%. Lower temperatures can cause chilling damage.
Tomatoes are ethylene producing so store separately from ethylene sensitive produce.Build up displays to a maximum of two layers deep as tomatoes are highly perishable and susceptible to bruising.
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