It is that time of year again when tomatoes are growing quickly in Louisiana. Tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and can be cooked ripe or unripe. Here in Louisiana, it is not uncommon to deep fry a green tomato and serve it as an appetizer! Tomatoes can also be used in a variety of recipes such as salads, salsas, and homemade sauces.
Tomatoes are high in vitamin C which boosts our immune system and vitamin A which promotes good vision. Some other vitamins and minerals found in tomatoes are potassium, vitamin K and folate. Tomatoes are also full of the antioxidant lycopene which protects against damage to our cells and may lower the risk of some forms of cancer. Tomatoes are also low in calories and fat and an excellent source of dietary fiber.
When buying tomatoes look for well-formed tomatoes that are smooth and free from blemishes. Perfectly ripe tomatoes are completely red and firm but not hard. Avoid tomatoes that have already begun to shrivel.
When it comes to storing tomatoes, you want to keep them at room temperature away from dust and sunlight. Refrigerate them only if they are overripe. If you have a green tomato, you can ripen it in a paper bag at room temperature away from sunlight. Check daily and use when ripe.
To prevent spoilage and mold growth during storage, it is best to wash tomatoes just before you eat or prepare them. You should always wash them thoroughly under clean, running water even if you do not plan on eating the skin. Gently rub the outside of the tomato under the water to remove any dirt or bacteria.
All in all, tomatoes are bright in flavor and packed with vitamins, making them a great addition to any meal. Tomatoes can also be prepared in a variety of ways or enjoyed raw.
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