The tomato plant – a semi-wild species with small berries - originated in Peru three thousand years before the arrival of the European conquerors in Cortès’ retinue; its use for cooking was widespread among the Mayas and Aztecs who cultivated it with maize and called the fruit “xitomatl”. The variety that arrived in Europe much later, brought by the Spanish ships, was improved and more digestible, and it had already become an essential ingredient at the table of the great Emperor Montezuma. In Europe, however, it was greeted with some suspicion and considered unpalatable, and even poisonous by some. It was first used in European cooking in the 18th century, as recorded by historians, naturalists, courtiers and cooks. The first recipe for the classic tomato sauce was by Francesco Leonardi, cook for Empress Catherine the Great of Russia; from that moment on, nothing would stop the glorious rise of the tomato and in only a short time it would become a favoured ingredient, whether for royal banquets or the simple fare of the humble.
Tomatoes are naturally low in sugars and fats but rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, minerals, fibres and antioxidants like lycopene, making them a concentrated burst of beneficial substances. All the energy they have accumulated under the Mediterranean sun is transferred to every dish, as a burst of taste and nourishment. The tomatoes used by the tomato-processing industry are harvested only when fully ripe, when their flesh is red and juicy but still firm enough to be processed. Today, all industrial tomato-processing is fully regulated by laws and standards on the raw materials, and the information/claims printed on the labels.
You can buy canned tomatoes in whatever form you want: whole peeled tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato passata, in any form tomatoes are a key ingredient for dishes rich in creativity and tempting aromas. The variety of possible combinations is virtually endless. Starting from the simple (but incomparable) tomato sauce for a tasty pasta dish or to flavour a pizza, tomatoes can be used with meat, fish, eggs and cheese, and even for dessert. Whatever flavour you are looking for in your cooking, tomatoes will be able to provide it adapting to the dish and, depending on the recipe, play a starring role or be a supporting player, be the accompaniment or distinctive note of any dish. All these qualities in just one food that is – to tell the truth - many varieties in shape, appearance and colour.
The peculiarities of European and Italian tomatoes are linked to the traditions of the specific territories where they grow, and it is important to protect them as well as raise awareness of their characteristics so that the consumer can learn to recognise and appreciate them. To this end, the European Union has adopted policies for the promotion and enhancement of the quality and typical characteristics of some foods, and in the case of the tomato, the Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) label for the pomodoro S. Marzano DOP dell’agro sarnese-nocerino (Agro Sarnese-Nocerino San Marzano Tomato), grown in an area of fertile plains of volcanic origin, particularly rich in potassium carbonate, and with plentiful supplies of ground water and an efficient system of irrigation channels, as well as being close to the sea, all of which favour the farming of tomatoes, especially the elongated cylindrical variety which is suitable for canned whole peeled tomatoes.
Tomato processing begins with the sorting of the best tomatoes that are washed to eliminate any traces of earth or other unwanted materials. Then the most suitable fruit are sorted with the perfectly ripe and whole fruit chosen for processing. Next, the fruit is brought to a high temperature to separate the skin from the flesh, and then an optic sorter eliminates any damaged fruit, the stems and traces of skin. At this point in the production line, the tin cans are filled with the whole peeled tomatoes and their juice, and are vacuum-sealed to preserve their freshness and flavour. The next phase in the operation is sterilisation, which eliminates any micro-organisms that could alter the product. At the end of processing, the canned whole peeled tomatoes are ready for the final metres of the conveyor belt for labelling and packing in cartons. Next stop, home kitchens and gourmet restaurants all around the world.
vitamin C content, one of the healthiest components due to its anti-infective action.
calories in 100 grams of tomatoes.
tomatoes are low in fats and have no cholesterol.
mg of lycopene in 100 grams of canned tomatoes.