Kamatis – Tomato, tomaten, tomates, pomodoro
Tomato is the ever popular vegetable in the world, rightly so because of it’s versatility in the culinary world and also for its’ nutritional value. Regarded either a fruit or a vegetable, either way, tomato is good to eat by itself or combined with other foods especially in salads or salsa.
Our tomato in the Philippines or where I grew up is the variety which we call the Heirloom variety today. Much like the beefsteak tomato where the shape is irregular, some big, some small, but juicy and sweet and tangy at the same time. I remember how my Mom will prepare a salad made of tomatoes, seaweed and small red onions we call “sibuyas Iloko or sibuyas Tagalog” which the Westerners refer to as shallots. She will season it with fish sauce and we enjoy eating them as a side dish for grilled fish or steamed crabs and other seafood.
Tomato is a summer vegetable even in the Philippines. You would note that during rainy season, tomatoes and other summer vegetables would be higher in prices in the local markets.
I grow tomatoes from seeds because of the challenge I supposed. But you can buy them ready to trasplant from your local nurseries. I learned that you have to plant the seedling deep enough so the stems which would be embedded in the ground will develop more roots making the plant more sturdy and vigorous. Make sure that you choose a plant that do not have blossoms yet. Depending on the variety you choose, tomato plant needs stakes or cages especially the indeterminate varieties. The determinate ones are what we refer to as the bush type. You also need to remove the “suckers” or side shoots in order to have more fruits instead of just thick leaves.
There is also a popular type of growing tomatoes nowadays which is ‘hydrophonic’. You will needs special materials for this one.
Did you know that tomatoes were considered poisonous long time ago? The leaves and the stems contain glycoalkaloids and so people do not want to to eat tomatoes until the mid-1700′s where it became widely cultivated in Britain and North America.
Tomatoes contain potassium and an excellent source of Vitamin C and A. They are also rich in lycopene, ( pytochemical) an anti-oxidant which helps to fight cancers of the prostate, cervix and skin. Do you know that lycopene is mostly found in the membranes that covers the seeds of the tomatoes? So make sure you eat the whole tomato and not remove the seeds. Tomato sauce is a rich source of concentrated lycopene. No wonder Italians are healthy, they love tomato sauce on their pasta.