Tomatoes…fruit or vegetable? Almost like the chicken question isn’t it? Which came first? The chicken or the egg? That depends, in comparison, is an egg part of a chicken?
It feels like a vegetable, taste like one, it’s used as a base for many culinary wonders, it requires no explanation, is low in sugar, vitamin profile is desirable, it’s sliced for sandwiches, quartered for salads and what nots, it is pureed, simmered with garlic, herbs and mirepoix. More often they’re used to create the many versions of “sauce” and ladled over your favorite pastas.
Tomatoes, scientifically are fruits, whether or not or whatever you may think are also a source of puzzlement, no life altering revelation, but a strange wonder.
A fruit, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, in simple terms, says “if it has seeds in it, because it’s part of it or maintains them…any part of the plant by which that plant goes out in the world and in its rights, reproduces (as in, for example the flesh of the tomato that has all those little white thingies in it), then it is a fruit! “ Mind you, I had to bring Sex Education 101 in.
Clearly, we know tomatoes have seeds, so they have us thinking they are a fruit (right?) because anything with a seed is a fruit? Now, wait a minute…Does it mean Cucumbers are a fruit? Well, yes indeed. Zucchini? also Fruit. Peppers? Fruit. Squash, peas, sweet corn? Fruit, fruit, fruit. Is it possible that all fruits are also vegetables? Surely not? But there is certainly a very definite, extremely fine line between the two and not as we would like to accept it as, especially to make sense.
Let’s check in Merriam-Webster about defining a vegetable. It turns out a vegetable is “a plant usually that is edible and includes-leaves, stems and roots, but not the part with the seeds.” What about the fruit? It has part of a plant. Probably…No. Indeed. What? Can you honestly say the same about apples or bananas though? Here I go scratching my head again.
Asparagus? stems. Celery? stalks. Potatoes, Carrots? roots. Lettuce? leaves.
Broccoli? Flowering buds and stems. (but they don’t bear seeds). Science aside, this could be really confusing to some people, I mean, they have separate displays of seeds for vegetables, flowers and fruit is usually a plant in the garden area at Wally-World right? And it is obvious that tomatoes are vegetables, and I can list reasons why we think that.
1. They’re not sweet
2. They are used mostly for savory dishes
3. Hardly anyone picks up a tomato and eats it like an apple
4. Hardly anyone puts tomatoes in a fruit salad!
5. Tomato pie is not really a thing as far as dessert
6. They’re not animal or mineral
7. It’s a veg. according to Dept. of Agriculture, scientifically it’s a fruit
8. The U.S. Supreme Court says so.
Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court says so! It’s difficult to imagine they could side on utter defiance of science and reality. They usually step in and classify, just as in Nix v. Hedden, the year 1893, the Supreme court judge-Justice Horrence Gray, ruled in favor that tomatoes were indeed subject to an import tax on vegetables, rejecting opposing sides’ arguments that botanically, a tomato was a fruit and should be immune from tariffs.
He authored this opinion: “Under US customs regulations, botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit off a vine, to which in common language of the people, all of these are grown just as cukes, squash, beans and peas and could be grown in common household gardens, eaten cooked or raw and are like potatoes, cabbage, turnip, beets, celery and lettuce to be served with a main course are not….like fruits which generally are used in desserts.”
You’d think this would have settled the question once and for all. But today, Ohio and Tennessee both currently designate the tomato as the state fruit, where as NJ, it’s the state vegetable. My, My, My! Is this how we’ve recognized it or just how we perceived it? So, basically it really comes down to this-the reason tomatoes are fruit, based on scientific botanical reasons, they are fruit.
Chef Gordon Ramsey has been quoted to have said “Tomatoes have seeds, so it’s a fruit.” On twitter, [email protected] asks “If a tomato is a fruit not a vegetable, does that mean ketchup is a smoothie?” For reals, huh!
Whenever the world sorts this out, you have to think about the fact tomatoes are often overlooked in desserts or main dishes-like my “Tomato Cobbler” last week, which many of you enjoyed so much-So I thought I’d throw a “really? For dessert?” at you. It’s common belief tomatoes would not work in pies or cakes, not that they wouldn’t work, just unimaginable for which I am guilty of thinking that way, but not until the
‘Tomato Cobbler” recently published. There are so very few tomato desserts out there, but tomatoes are coming up the ranks and showing their diversity.
I found 7 desserts you cannot miss. I can’t print all of them, but you can drop me a line and I’ll get it out to you.
1. Green Tomato Pie-from nineteenth century southerners from Alabama and MS, often made to use up green tomatoes from the fall.
2. Green Tomato Crumble Pie-again, a southern favorite, a twist on their classic pie and perfect for the holidays.
3. Tomato Cupcakes-Doesn’t this blow your mind?
4. Tomato, Basil and Ricotta Gelati-Mixing three favorite ingredients into a dessert!. (Where am I?)
5. Sweet Tomato Turnovers-These are meant to be together!
6. Green Tomato Cake-Seriously-super moist and delicious cake with an incredible frosting.
7. Bloody Mary Ice Pops-Need I say more?
What’s your favorite Tomato recipe?
Tomato Soup Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream Frosting
Prep: 15 min. Total: 40 min. Cook Time: 22 min. Yields: 12
1 large Egg
1 tbsp. Canola oil
1 c. Sugar
1 can (10 ½ oz) Tomato soup
1 ½ c. Flour (AP)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Cloves
¼ tsp. Nutmeg
Preheat to 350°
In a large bowl, whisk together egg, oil and sugar until smooth. Stir in
tomato soup, followed by flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg
and cloves. Beat until smooth.
Fill cupcake liners in cupcake tin with 4 tbsp. (exactly) of batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
a c. Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
6-8 tsp. Milk
4 c. Powdered sugar
¾ c. Cocoa powder
½ tsp. Espresso powder
Beat butter until smooth, add vanilla and milk, mix. Slowly add sugar, cocoa and espresso. If it’s too thick to pipe on or spread, add milk slowly. Frost and delight yourselves. Refrigerate excess frosting.
Yields: 24-30 turnovers Prep: 25 Min. Cook Time: 2 Hours/25 Min.
6 pounds Roma Tomatoes
1 stick Cinnamon (Is like canning, you’ll get the best flavor profile with 3 whole Cloves the whole spice)
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 ½ c. Brown sugar
For the Dough:
3 C. AP flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
½ C. Shortening
½ C. Milk
2 tbsp. Sugar
Make the Filling.
1. In a large pot, add enough water to cover the tomatoes and set on medium heat
Bring to boil.
2. Rinse tomatoes, remove stems. With a paring knife, make a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Carefully add tomatoes to hot water and boil for 5 min. Remove from the heat, cover and let it sit for 5 minutes.
3. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Add tomatoes to cool off, about
10-12 min. Add more ice if necessary.
4. When cooled, peel tomatoes, start from bottom up. The curled edges help make the peeling easier.
5. With your hands, crush tomatoes into a non-stick pot. If too hot to handle, use a potato masher. Add cinnamon, cloves on low heat, boil roughly mashed tomatoes for about 45 min. Stir frequently so they don’t stick to the bottom.
6. Strain most of the water out, but leave enough in the pot as not to dry out the tomatoes. For example, drain out 1 ½ c. to 2 cups of water. This all depends on your pot size. Reserve ¾ c. of the liquid. Refrigerate to cool.
7. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves from the tomatoes. Mash tomatoes again with the masher. Add the sugars and cook for another 30 min. Add more sugar to taste.
8. Add the cornstarch to ½ cup of reserved cold tomato water and whisk until well combined. Add the mixture to the tomatoes and continue to cook for another 15 min, until thick like preserves.
9. As they preserve, cooling it will thicken it. Can as needed, or use immediately.
Making the dough:
1. Mix first three dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with dry ingredients. Works better if you use your hands. Split the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes.
2. Take out one half of the dough and split it into 12 rounds of dough.
3. Preheat to 350°
Assembling the turnovers:
1. Roll out one of the balls/prepped round of dough into a round circle. Take a paring knife and cut off edges creating a square.
2. Add 1 tbsp. of preserves on one half of the rolled out circle.
3. Bring down top corner and match it with bottom corner, creating a triangle. Seal off the dough by pressing down on the edges with a fork. This will make a fancy pattern as well.
4. Continue until you have used up all the rounds and scraps of dough. Repeat with second half in fridge.
5. Brush lightly, a beaten egg on top and edges. This will give you a shine and flake the top crust beautifully. Sprinkle with sugar (optional), place parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and line them up to bake on the bottom rack.
***Watch them carefully as not to burn them, all ovens are different! Feel free to use and cut into different shapes. Enjoy. Tomato Turnovers! Imagine that!
~Happy Fooding~ Happy Tomato-ing. I’m so glad you all enjoyed last weeks ”Tomato Cobbler”. Keep sending me ideas and we’ll learn together. ~Updating you on my surgery progress. Physical therapy is gruesome, but still going forward. Walking is much better, I’m not running after anything and I find myself challenging to race other people I see with canes walking just as slow as I am. Ps…They smile and win at that!~
My E-Mail is [email protected] I always look forward to hearing from you~ No updates on the projects yet, I kind of got sidetracked with the injury. Keep reading your Rangeley Highlander for more news soon. And the last words~ The potential hot tomato of today can turn into the cold pop tart of tomorrow.~Diane Lane
Credit: Harvard Law Educ. Cases/Find Law.com, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Today Show, Dot Dash Publishing