Given the fact that the United States is the second largest producer of tomatoes and the average American eats about 23 pounds of them each year, it’s probably not surprising that the folks at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market are stocked up on this scrumptious nightshade plant.
Since this makes it unofficially “tomato week” at A2 Farmers Market, we figured it’d be a good time to share five of our favorite facts about the tomato.
They’re related to potatoes: Ever meet someone for the first time, hit it off famously, and then later you find out they’re related to one of your best friends? Well, if you love the tomato and the potato, you’ll probably be unsurprised at the fact that they attend the same family reunions.
Both are nightshade plants that are part of the same family of plant species. They’re also related to eggplants and peppers. That’s one tasty family.
They’re nutritionally resilient and compositionally versatile: Surely you’ve been warned about broccoli losing nutrients when boiled. Lots of produce loses nutrients when cooked, but tomatoes actually gain nutritional value when cooked due to tomatoes forming more easily absorbable forms of lycopene when heat is applied to them.
Lycopene is what makes tomatoes that attractive shade of red. It’s also a cancer fighter and helps prevent heart disease; specifically the hardening of arteries.
If you’re not cooking them, they can be canned, turned to paste or jam, and frozen for particularly long periods of time.
They have the same benefits as bananas and milk: If for some reason you don’t like milk or bananas, consider eating tons o’ tomatoes, as they contain both calcium and potassium. Given the high fat content and digestive consequences of these two food items, the tomato might be able to help fill that gap.
They need to be aged or ripened to your liking before refrigeration: A fine wine is finer still with age, which goes the same for tomatoes — to a point, anyway.
It turns out the moment you put a tomato in the refrigerator, it stops ripening. Ripened tomatoes develop the best flavor and also refrigerating tomatoes changes their internal texture.
Ever eaten a tomato that felt grainy in your mouth? Then you’re eaten an over-refrigerated tomato.
If you ate one of the different varieties of tomato each day it’d take you more than 27 years to eat them all: With roughly 10,000 varieties of tomato living across this bright blue planet, you could make a career out of tracking down and eating each of them in their innumerable shapes, sizes, textures, and colors.
Did you know there are striped tomatoes? Start amending that bucket list now.
Wilson’s Farm will be at the market this week with a huge variety of heirloom tomatoes, but not 10,000-huge, according to market organizers. Sorry — you’re still going to need plane tickets.
Since fall is upon us, there will also be winter squash. But summer’s not down-and-out yet, so summer produce like corn, cucumbers, blueberries and peaches are still to be found.
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