The edible fruit of the Solanum lycopersicum plant, the tomato, is a highly popular fruit that is consumed by people across the world and is used in many cuisines worldwide. The plant species is native to Central and South America. Currently, different varieties of tomato are cultivated in temperate climates and greenhouse conditions that allow the plant to thrive throughout the year. The tomato plant is a perennial in its area of origin while it is grown as an annual elsewhere.
Botany Of The Tomato Plant
The tomato plant is a vine that typically grows about 180 cm above the ground. The plant is a dicot that grows in the form of a series of branching stems. The terminal bud is responsible for the actual growth. The vines are covered with short, fine hairs that turn into roots on coming in contact with the ground. Most of the plants have compound leaves while some have simple ones. The fruit of the plant is classified as a berry and is the part that is consumed. The fruit bears hollow spaces that are laden with seeds and moisture.
History Of Tomato Cultivation
Tomato has been consumed since the ancient times. The Aztecs of South America used the fruit in their dishes as per evidence. By about 500 BC, tomato was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and a few other areas. The tomato plant was probably first introduced to Europe by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Soon, it became a popularly cultivated crop across Europe and was also introduced to other parts of the world by European explorers and colonists.
Production Of Tomato
In 2017, the worldwide production of tomatoes totaled 170.8 million tons. China, the leading producer of tomatoes, accounted for 31% of the total production. India and the United States followed with the second and third highest production of tomatoes in the world. In the European Union, tomatoes accounted for 23% of the total output of fresh vegetables in 2014. Of this, more than half was produced in Spain, Italy, and Poland. The global tomato exports the previous year was worth 88 billion USD.
Uses Of Tomato
Tomatoes are 95% water, 4% carbohydrates, and contains less than 1% of proteins and fats. These fruits are a moderate vitamin C source and are generally low in dietary nutrients.
Tomatoes are consumed worldwide and used in diverse ways in different world cuisines. Tomatoes are eaten raw in salads or used to prepare tomato soup and ketchup. Tomato juice is a popular drink and used in cocktail preparation. Since the tomatoes are acidic in nature, it is easy to preserve tomato pastes and sauces at home. These fruits are a key ingredient in pizzas and other Italian dishes. In India, tomatoes are a favorite additive in cuisine due to the tangy flavor contributed by the tomato to the dish.
Which Are The World's Leading Tomato Producing Countries?
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