Cherry tomatoes: The sweetest, most adorable orbs of delicious.
What to say about cherry tomatoes…? I had no to start with! That’s why I enjoy doing these vege profiles, I learn a tidbit or two about something that I have enjoyed my entire life.
For instance, did you know the cherry tomato was the first of the family to be domesticated? I’d always thought it was the other way around. Some genius with a shrink-ray making what I thought of as ‘regular tomatoes’ itsy bitsy. Cherry tomatoes are the first descendants of the wild tomato, which traces back millions of years to the coast of South America. Mesoamerican farmers cultivated the first cherry tomatoes at least a thousand miles away in Central America around 500BC.
Aztec writings included the very first recipe for salsa, which contained cherry tomatoes, hot chili peppers and salt. The name ‘Salsa’ is Spanish for sauce, yet the recipe predates the Spanish arrival in the 15th century, which led to the introduction of tomatoes to Europe. The Spanish word tomate, came from the ancient Aztec languages (Nahuatl) name Tomatl which translated to “Plump thing with a navel.” The more I learn about the origin of our modern vegetables the more I realize The America’s have had a far deeper, more fundamental influence on the world of food. Italian and French cuisine, those cornerstones of modern cooking both would look mighty pale without the introduction of tomatoes, along with the many other agricultural achievements made in pre-colonial times.
Cherry tomatoes can be classified based on how they grow, as their plants produce in two different forms: determinate or indeterminate. Determinate varieties grow on bush-like plants and bear one crop per season, while indeterminate are sprawling plants that bear fruit continuously throughout the season. (World Record for “most tomatoes harvested from a single plant” was 32,194 tomatoes) Cherry tomatoes genetic makeup has remained mostly unchanged while the larger cultivar are the ones that have been selectively bred into the hundreds of varieties we have today. The genetic grandmama was tiny, yellow and only had one or two seed chambers.
Nutrition: One calorie per cherry tomato, now that’s easy calory counting! If only everything was so simple. Tomatoes are the richest natural source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant important for the health of the prostate gland in men and protects against certain types of cancer. High in fiber and vitamin C, they also boast doses of B-6, which helps metabolize protein and supports cognitive development, Vit A which aids production of white blood cells and potassium which is linked with lowering elevated blood pressure, cell replication and energy conversion.
To store: Cherry tomatoes should be stored away from direct sunlight at room temperature until ripe then refrigerated to prevent them from ripening further, for up to a week. Bring chilled cherry tomatoes to room temperature before serving raw for greater flavour.
To freeze: Tomatoes can be frozen whole with the skin on. The skins will slide right off when they thaw. Simply pop the washed tomatoes whole into a bag. Thawed tomatoes are appropriate only for cooking sauces, salsas, or purees.
On the menu this week
- Garlic roasted radish w/ rocket, lemon zest and feta
- Fresh salsa quesadilla with fennel, radish, spring onion and cherry tomato
- Carrot, fennel and ginger latke w/ parsley, lime coconut raita
- Filo cups w/ Cumin roasted cherry tomatoes, pickled cucumber, spring onion and garlic white sauce
- BBQ blistered cherry tomatoes w/ paprika, olive oil and rock salt, on crostini.