Nancy Wiersma: Fall tomatoes offer more nutrients with better tastePublished 9:56pm Monday, September 24, 2012
Right now, is it considered late summer or early fall? It is much like, is the glass half-empty or half -full. Or are you a foot-dragging procrastinator or an early-bird optimist?
If this is early fall, then I have an interesting bit about fall tomatoes. Like most gardeners, I have a glut of tomatoes. It seems like they are ripening at once: We have tomatoes coming out of our ears.
While kicking back with a gardening magazine and a tall glass of iced tea, I came across a piece about fall tomatoes.
Researchers in France (By the way, 45 percent of all fruit and veggies consumed in France are home-grown) with their beautiful, chic designer potagers, have been testing their tomatoes. As it goes, when a tomato ripens, acid content decreases as sugars increase and health-giving metabolitesn accumulate.
This time of year, who knows what type of weather we might get? Warm days, cool nights, researchers found tomatoes ripened in cool conditions (about 70 degrees) had higher levels of healthful phytochemicals.
Tomatoes ripened at warmer temperatures — 79 degrees and higher — the heat-stressed plants had improved and were a better-tasting tomato.
So warm days and cool nights produce a more healthful, better-tasting tomato. One cup of chopped tomatoes has 37 calories and 1.9 grams of fiber as well as 46 milligrams of vitamin C and 1,121 IU of vitamin A.
Tomatoes are packed with vitamins such as C, A (beta carotene) B1 and are rich in phytochemicals, such as lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. And even when cooked, tomatoes have great health benefits, including cancer-fighting properties. No one can deny that a sun-ripened tomato, one plucked fresh from the vine, is hard to beat.
1. Tomatoes ripen from the center outwards.
2. New varieties were necessitated by limited space, short cool seasons, high vitamin content, good storage life and low acid content.
3. So-called “low acid” tomatoes are not any lower in acid than any other, but, because of their very high sugar content, this “masks” the acid they do contain.
4. Blossom drop may occur when night temperatures are above 75 degrees in high summer.
5. If you smoke, wash hands before gardening, or you could give your tomatoes a case of tobacco mosaic.
…Tomato seeds in my hair, tomato skins in my teeth, the surfaces of the kitchen heaped with tomatoes, tomatoes in buckets, tomatoes lined up on the window sills… Marge Piercy.
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