The humble little tomato or in the plant world known as “Solanum Lycopersicum.“ Sweet and juicy packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, especially high in Lycopene, a plant compound linked to improved heart health and cancer prevention. Generally the redder the tomato the more Lycopene it contains, you will find the highest concentrations in the skin.
So what is this little ball of deliciousness, a fruit or a vegetable? This question causes such confusion. So hopefully I can shine some light on this topic for you.
So what is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable anyway?
Fruits are grown from flowers and they contain seeds along with assisting with the plants reproductive process. Whereas vegetables are the roots, stems, leaves or any other edible part of the plant. According to science, in the botanical term tomatoes are fruits, they form from small yellow flowers, grow from a vine and naturally contain a multitude of seeds. Which can then be harvested to produce more tomato plants.
Much of the confusion about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is when it comes to using them in the kitchen. When cooking or preparing tomatoes to eat they are usually used alongside vegetables in savoury dishes. So as a result these blushed little beauties have earned their reputation as a vegetable, even though they are technically a fruit by scientific standards. So there ya have it, I guess it really depends on who you are talking to, if it’s a farmer or gardener, they are fruits. But if you’re talking to a chef they are vegetables.
Ever wondered why home-grown tomatoes taste way nicer than store bought? When tomatoes naturally start to ripen, they produce a gaseous hormone called Ethylene. Commercially grown tomatoes are harvested before their time and transported while still green. To make them that perfect juicy red colour before they hit the supermarket shelf, food companies spray them with artificial Ethylene gas. By doing this process it inhibits the development of natural flavours and can result in bland, tasteless tomatoes. Makes sense right, so if you grow your own or purchase locally grown, this is why they taste way nicer, as they have had the time to ripen naturally. Just another reason why we should stop messing with nature and just let it do it’s thing.