Tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio. Arkansas’ official state vegetable is the vine ripe pink tomato (of South Arkansas).
There are at least 10,000 varieties of tomatoes (from the small marble-sized cherry one to the Ponderosa, which can weigh over three pounds).
The jelly-like substance around the seeds contains the highest concentration of vitamin C.
The smallest tomato species are less than three-quarters of an inch in diameter. There are yellow and red varieties.
Botanically, tomatoes are actually a fruit. This is because, generally, a fruit is the edible part of the seed containing the seeds, while a vegetable is the edible stems, leaves, and plant roots. But in 1863 the Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were to be considered vegetables.
The tomato is the world’s most popular “fruit” (See the abovementioned); more than 60 million tons are produced each year. This is 16 million more tons than the banana, the second most popular. The third most popular are apples (36 million), then oranges (34 million), and watermelons (22 million).
The early American colonists regarded the tomato as poison because it’s related to the deadly nightshade plant (but so is the potato!). Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson stood on the steps of the Salem, New Jersey courthouse in 1820 and ate a tomato-and then a few more-without any adverse effects, to the town’s amazement.
Johnson’s daring feat got a lot of attention.
(By 1842, farm journals were declaring the tomato as the “latest craze.”)
The largest tomato ever grown (to date) was seven pounds, twelve ounces.
If you suffer from a skin disease, a tomato a day may keep the doctor away. Tomatine, tomato’s principle alkaloid, heals certain fungous disorders (green tomatoes contain large amounts of this, but don’t eat them raw. Cook (including fried!) or pickle them first.
Lycopene is the substance that gives tomatoes their rich red color. It’s also an antioxidant that reduces the risk for prostate cancer in men and helps reduce heart disease.
One tomato plant can produce 15 tomatoes in a season.
Eating tomatoes will give you healthy eyes and skin, as they contain vitamins A and C. They’re also a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B.
The tomato can be grown in just about any climate (sandy, dry, moist, or salty) and in almost any soil.
California is the world’s largest producer of processed tomatoes (Ohio’s the second largest). The state’s peak tomato season is from July through September, but the season actually runs an entire six months, beginning in June and running through November.
Tomatoes (and apples) have a natural ripening hormone called ethylene.
Tomatoes first grew as wild, cherry-sized berries in the South American Andes, but the tomato as we know it today was developed in Mexico. It was known as tomatil.