The tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum) is a fruit from the nightshade family native to South America. Despite botanically being a fruit, it's generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable. Tomatoes are the primary dietary source of the antioxidant "lycopene, " linked to many health benefits, including reduced heart disease and cancer risks. It is also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Although it is usually red when mature, tomatoes can also come in various colours, including yellow, orange, green, and purple.
What's more? Many subspecies of tomatoes exist with different shapes and flavours. While tomatoes are fruits, botanically classified as berries, they are commonly used as a vegetable ingredient or side dish. Numerous varieties of the tomato plant are widely grown in temperate climates across the world, with greenhouses allowing for the production of tomatoes throughout all seasons of the year. Tomato plants typically grow to 1–3 meters (3–10 ft) in height. They are vines that have a weak stem that sprawls and typically needs support. There are thousands of tomato varieties, many of which are hybrids, but they can be broadly divided into eight types, namely;
Snake Tomato: Trichosanthes cucumerina, locally known as "elejo tomato", is a variety mainly growing wild in southwestern Nigeria. This long vegetable, which resembles a cucumber, is richer in vitamin C, vitamin A and essential amino acids and calcium than the more popular and widespread tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes: The cherry tomato is a type of small round tomato believed to be an intermediate genetic admixture between wild currant-type tomatoes and domesticated garden tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes range in size from a Lollipop size up to the size of a golf ball and can vary from sphere to a slightly oblong shape. Although it's usually red, other colours such as yellow, green, and black also exist. Cherry tomatoes are round, bite-sized, and so juicy that they may pop when you bite into them
Grape tomatoes: Grape tomatoes are about half the size of cherry tomatoes. They are a class of tomatoes of southeast Asian origin. They are shaped similarly to the oval plum tomatoes but have the small size and sweetness of cherry tomatoes. Grape tomatoes produce small and typically oblong fruits. Introduced to the worldwide market in the 1990s, they have gained substantial popularity, due at least in part to their higher sugar content compared to regular tomatoes and due to their smaller, bite-sized shape.
Roma tomatoes: The Roma tomato or Roma is a plum tomato popular for canning and producing tomato paste because of its slender and firm nature. Commonly found in supermarkets in some countries, Roma tomatoes are also known as Italian tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes: A beef tomato or beefsteak tomato is one of the largest varieties of cultivated tomatoes, some weighing 450 grams or more. Most are pink or red with numerous small seed compartments distributed throughout the fruit, sometimes displaying pronounced ribbing similar to ancient pre-Columbian tomato cultivars. They are aptly named for their large size and meaty texture. They have a classic tomato flavour. Depending upon the variety, they can also be sweet to the taste.
Heirloom tomatoes: A heirloom tomato (also called heritage tomato in the UK) is an open-pollinated, non-hybrid heirloom cultivar of tomato. They are classified as: family heirlooms, commercial heirlooms, mystery heirlooms, created heirlooms. They usually have a shorter shelf life and are less disease resistant than hybrids. They are grown for a variety of reasons: for food, historical interest, access to broader types, and by people who wish to save seeds from year to year, as well as for their taste. Many heirloom tomatoes are sweeter and lack the genetic mutation that gives tomatoes a uniform red colour at the cost of the fruit's taste.
Tomatoes on the vine: Red tomatoes on the vine are large, round red tomatoes usually used for slicing and salads. They are sold with the vine still attached. They have a classic tomato flavour, but they can also be sweet.
Green tomatoes: These are simply tomatoes that are not ripe. Sometimes green tomatoes are intentionally picked before they ripen. Still, they are usually merely tomatoes that didn't ripen by the end of the growing season. Because they're firmer and denser than ripe tomatoes, green tomatoes can be cooked in ways that ripe tomatoes can't
Much of the confusion about whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable comes from the typical culinary applications for tomatoes. Cooking is as much an art as a science, giving way to more flexibility for how different foods are categorized. In cooking, tomatoes are usually used alone or paired alongside other actual vegetables in savoury dishes. As a result, it has earned a reputation as a vegetable, even though it is technically a fruit by scientific standards. In conclusion, the tomato is a versatile superstar that can be consumed in diverse ways and in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks.