Friday, August 29, 2014

TOMATOES: The Beauties of a Fall Harvest

This is the time of the year when the fall harvest begins. For gardeners, anxious to taste the first tomatoes of the season, this is the time when the fruit swells on the vines and everyone scurries to find ways to store the pretty red or yellow beauties for future use. There are more than 4,000 varieties of tomatoes in our world, ranging from the small, marble-size cherry tomato to the giant Ponderosa that weights more than three pounds.

Tomatoes can be cooked, eaten raw, canned, frozen and used in a variety of sauces. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat more than 22 pounds of tomatoes every year. More than half this amount is eaten in the form of ketchup and tomato sauce.

Technically, a tomato is a fruit, since it is the ripened ovary of a plant. In 1893, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of “Nix vs. Hedden” that tomatoes were to be considered vegetables.

The word "tomato" comes from the Spanish tomate, and is member of the deadly nightshade family. Tomatoes were not cultivated in North America until the 1700s, and then only in home gardens since many people thought them to be poisonous. By 1782, Thomas Jefferson was raising tomatoes on his plantation. But it took until the 1900s for them to may their way into American cookbooks.

The H. J. Heinz Company, also known as the Heinz Company, and commonly known as Heinz, is a food processing company and is worldwide famous for its "57 Varieties" slogan and its ketchup. Its world headquarters is in Pittsburgh, PA. Henry Heinz picked the number 57 at random because of its sound after he rode an elevated train in New York City and spied an advertisement for a shoe store boasting “21 styles.”

Whether your eating pizza sauce, tomato soup, ketchup on your fries, or a simple BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich, the tomato is now a common ingredient in most people’s diets. Let the fall harvest begin!

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