Over the years, farmers, homesteaders and people with a keen interest have shaped the way we grow and consume food. We see some varieties of vegetables and fruit in the stores, yet we have very little available to us in terms of the variety that is accessible. Though not all varieties of fruit and vegetables are suitable for commercial selling there definitely are many that are suited to home-growing or buying from the farmers’ markets. Honestly though, some are just so fascinating that you just need to know about them.
As tomatoes made their way around the world filling itself into many cultures it became a staple for many countries. Easy enough to grow, fantastic flavour and colour. It added a richness to a dish while allowing it to be used in a range of ways. Though it was not a fast process as the first tomatoes are believed to have been in use by the early Aztecs around 700 AD with Europeans only being introduced to this magnificent fruit, and/or vegetable, in the 16th century. By the time the Spanish had arrived the cultivation of the plant was widespread through south and central America. Some believing it to be an aphrodisiac. It was also an overall rocky start to the simple tomato’s life, however. Seemingly appearing in Europe in a Nepalese cookbook in the mid-16th century, it was a widely used ingredient. Though it faced much scrutiny due to naming conventions or people believing it to be poisonous. This is due to the fact that members of the Solanaceae family, to which the tomato belongs, are in fact poisonous. Each plant in this family has an interesting history and may surprise you to know that potatoes, eggplants, and peppers are included in the Solanaceae family. On the other hand, this family includes the deadly nightshade which was rather similar to the tomato plant. This is partly why many avoiding the plant believing it to be poisonous. There are many other theories and instances recorded in connection with the tomato, beginning from its origins as an aphrodisiac all the way to a favourite fresh food on the table. Though I am fairly certain that the tomato still has quite a journey ahead.
It is difficult to say how many varieties of tomatoes exist in the world. Roughly 3,000 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes in active cultivation worldwide and up to 15,000 known varieties. Many plant enthusiasts carry on bringing us new varieties with amazing colours, incredible flavours and unusual looking plants. Tomatoes are by far one the most interesting plants to grow and fruits, and/or vegetables, to consume. There is a ridiculous variety of tomatoes never mind the colours and shapes that are out there. I personally have not always enjoyed eating raw tomatoes however, since being introduced to different types and the flavours they offer my tune has changed. Here are ten tomatoes you may not know: