No other vegetable is used more than the tomato. Some will call it ordinary. Truth is, it is invaluable! The tomato was cultivated for the first time in South and Central America while it remained unknown in Europe until 1544; the Italians named it “pomodoro” or “golden apple” because of the light colour of the ripe tomato. The tomato arrived in Greece in 1818.
The nutritional value of the tomato
The tomato consists mainly of water and biological substances. This is why it is very low in calories and is therefore an appropriate sustenance for those who are on a diet. Its nutritional value is invaluable. The tomato is rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Of course we should not forget the lycopene that abounds in the tomato and which has incredible antioxidant properties. Lycopene also has a powerful fat-dissolving action, while its antioxidant power is twice that of provitamin A.
The cultivation of the tomato
The tomato is a very popular vegetable, easy to cultivate even in a small garden. Indeed, a lot of amateur growers even plant tomatoes on their balcony. In any case, whether you plant tomatoes in a field, a garden or a balcony, it is important to water it properly. To be precise, avoid overwatering especially in the early stages, or it will develop a weak root system. During its flowering period it needs conservative watering, while during its fruiting period, especially during the summer months, it needs frequent watering, every 1-2 days.
To be rewarded with juicy and sweet tomatoes, we must also take care of its fertilization. Beyond the basic fertilization, tomatoes also need an organic fertilizer enriched with calcium and potassium, approximately 20 days after planting.
The sweet juicy summer tomato and its consumption
Tomatoes are at their best in the summer. Abundant, sweet and juicy, they come closest to their true flavour than in any other season of the year. Take advantage of their low prices to make your own tomato juice and enjoy the taste of summer’s bounty all winter. Choose the ripest tomatoes you will find on the market; wash them well, cut them in half to ensure that they are not hosting any unwanted visitors (warms etc) and boil in water for 15 minutes. This way, their skin will come loose. Remove the peel from all the tomatoes and press them to get rid of their seeds. Pour them over a sieve or wire mesh strainer – alternatively you may use a blender. Then boil them for 20-40 minutes until their water evaporates completely – depending on the density you want your juice to have. You may add one spoonful of coarse salt. Once ready and after you have sterilized the glass jars, fill them up to the brim. The secret is: hot tomato juice, hot jar. One way to do this is to place the jars and their lids in the oven for 10 minutes. Once you have filled the hot jars, seal them tightly, tip them over and let them cool upside down. You may also make sun-dried tomatoes for your food and salads.
In its raw and simple version, the Mediterranean salad with peppers, feta cheese and olives is a basic dish for our summer dinners, and – why not – the summer’s trademark. Especially if you briefly marinate the onion in a bowl with balsamic vinegar, coarse salt and sugar, the result will take your salad to a new level. And don’t forget to serve at the beginning of a meal Bruschette with slices of tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, olive oil, crushed garlic, coarse salt and some drops of fig balsamic cream. No one will resist the temptation and have just one!