Tomato fruitThe Tomato is an herbaceous plant, belonging to the Nightshade family, the same family to which the potato and tobacco belong. It is a native of South America, but is very extensively cultivated in nearly all countries, excepting the cold northern regions.
Botanically, the fruit is a berry, and before ripening is of a bright green color, changing to red in the red variety and to yellow in the yellow variety. The same plant bears flowers and ripe fruits, so that fruits may be gathered for a considerable period.
Tomatoes have a peculiar flavor and somewhat acid taste when ripe. The pulp contains many seeds. As with other garden plants, there are numerous culture varieties. Some are no larger than cherries. Some are pear-shaped; others large and flattened at the ends. Some are nearly spherical; others quite irregular. The ripe fruits must be gathered promptly, as they decay very readily and quickly.
At the present time the tomato is very little used medicinally, but is very extensively used as an article of diet. Picked green, they are pickled either alone or mixed with other vegetables. The ripened fruit is prepared in a multitude of ways. Peeled and sliced raw, adding salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar. Boiled in soups, mixed with sauces, baked or fried entire, fried or baked, mashed, mixed with stale bread and seasoned, etc. There is a popular superstition that eating tomatoes to excess cauces cancer. Tomato preserves are highly relished by some. Likewise tomato pies.
The general opinion prevails among scientists, as well as laymen, that the tomato is nourishing and wholesome. It is certainly harmless when ripe, but the green pickled preparations are not nourishing, nor particularly wholesome. The notion that pickles aid digestion is a mistaken one. The spices added may stimulate, but the green-fruit particles are not digestible.