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A courageous stunt proves tomatoes are not poisonous
Up until the end of the eighteenth century, physicians warned against eating tomatoes, fearing they caused not only appendicitis but also stomach cancer from tomato skins adhering to the lining of the stomach.
Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson of Salem, New Jersey had brought the tomato home from abroad in 1808. He had been offering a prize yearly for the largest fruit grown, but the general public considered the tomato an ornamental plant rather than one for food.
As the story is told, it was Colonel Johnson who on September 26, 1820 once and for all proved tomatoes non-poisonous and safe for consumption. He stood on the steps of the Salem courthouse and bravely consumed an entire basket of tomatoes without keeling over or suffering any ill effects whatsoever. His grandstanding attracted a crowd over over 2,000 people who were certain he was committing public suicide. The local firemen's band even played a mournful dirge to add to the perceived morbid display of courage. Johnson's public stunt garnered a lot of attention, and North America's love affair with the tomato was off and running. By 1842, farm journals of the time were touting the tomato as the latest craze and those who eschewed it as "objects of pity."
Tomato selection and Storage
Refrigeration is the enemy of fresh tomatoes
as it nullifies flavor and turns the flesh mealy. The culprit is a compound called Z-3 hexenel, which accounts for the tomato's scent and taste. The development process which turns tomato's linolenic acid to the Z-3 that makes our mouth and nose sing is hindered by cold. If you must refrigerate a tomato, take it out about an hour before using it to let it return to room temperature to revive any lurking Z-3.
There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes in an array of shapes, colors and sizes. The most common shapes are round (Beefsteak and globe), pear-shaped (Roma) and the tiny cherry-sized (Cherry and Grape). Yellow varieties tend to be less acidic and thus less flavorful than their red counterparts. In the United States today, tomatoes are second in consumption only to potatoes.
Tomato Selection and Storage
When selecting tomatoes at the market, use your nose. Smell the blossom (not stem) end. The most flavorful ones will have a rich tomato aroma. Don't expect much from those in your supermarket, even if they are labeled "vine-ripened."
Select tomatoes that are round, full and feel heavy for their size, with no bruises or blemishes.
The skin should be taut and not shriveled. Store fresh ripe tomatoes in a cool, dark place, stem-side down, and use within a few days
When wintering your garden, you can salvage some of those tomatoes that haven't yet ripened by wrapping them in newspaper and storing in a cool area between 55 and 70 degrees F for two to four weeks. Store them no more than two deep and check them often to use the ones that have begun to ripen. Don't expect them to be as good as ones you've ripened on the vine, but they will probably still be better than store-bought.
Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes come in many styles, including whole, chopped, crushed, paste (a concentrate), puree (strained), sauce (slightly thinner than puree and usually more seasoned), and juice (most of the pulp removed).
Unopened canned tomatoes should be used within six months. Once opened, store canned tomatoes in a covered glass container in the refrigerator up to one week. Leftover tomato paste and sauce can be frozen for up to two months. Freeze one tablespoon of tomato paste in each section of an ice tray, pop out when frozen, and seal in an airtight baggie for quick, pre-measured additions to soups and sauces. They need not be thawed prior to adding to your recipes in most cases.
Freezing Tomatoes
If you have freezer space, you should consider freezing your excess tomatoes rather than home canning. It's just so much easier, and the flavor and texture are better, although they will no longer be good for fresh usage. To freeze, rinse and dry thoroughly. Place in ziptop plastic bags and suck out the air with a straw. No peeling or blanching is necessary. Once thawed, the skins will easily slip off. They will be perfect for cooked dishes and will retain more of that fresh flavor, rather than the cooked, canned flavor.
Tomato Cooking Tips and Hints
No other vegetable or fruit is more widely used nor consumed than the tomato. From pizza to ketchup to sun-dried tomatoes and all in between, the tomato has an infinite number of applications on the dinner table. They can even be candied and used in cakes. Fried green tomatoes are a popular Southern dish.
Tomato Cooking Tips and Hints
Off season tomato tip use little sugar or aspertame or splenda to give them summer sweetness.
• A good serrated knife is far superior to a flat-edged knife for slicing tomatoes. If you use a flat-edged knife, be certain it is very sharp or you will squash and bruise the tomato flesh when slicing.
• Scooped-out cherry tomatoes make great edible cups for fish or egg salad, herbed cheese, or caviar as an appetizer.
Use a standard-sized hollowed tomato filled with any variety of stuffings as a side dish, either baked, raw or as a condiment bowl for sauces. Turn the hollowed out tomatoes upside down to drain for about ten minutes before filling. When baking stuffed tomatoes, place them in a muffin tin for stability.
• Do not use an aluminum pot, pan or utensil when cooking tomatoes. Aluminum pans and tomatoes do not mix
The acid in the tomato reacts unfavorably with the aluminum. Using aluminum makes the cooked tomatoes more bitter and fades the color. The dish will also absorb some of the aluminum and the acid in the tomatoes can pit and discolor the aluminum cookware.
• If your tomatoes seem overly acidic, you can add a sprinkle of sugar and salt, both of which will bring out the flavor.
• Rather than sugar, I prefer adding grated carrot to marinara sauce to combat acidity. The carrot disintegrates in the sauce and adds sweetness but no hint of carrot flavor.
• In tomato sauce, a quarter teaspoon of baking soda per gallon will also help alleviate acidity.
• The high acid content of the tomato will naturally slow down the cooking process of some other foods. For example, beans cooked with tomatoes added may take up to twenty percent more cooking time than without.
• Plum tomatoes are best used for sauces. Globe, cherry, and grape tomatoes are best for eating raw, although all varieties are good.
• If your only choice is the mealy, tasteless supermarket fresh tomato, you may well be better off using canned tomatoes in cooked recipes.
• Herbs that marry well with tomatoes include basil, oregano, marjoram, pepper, dill weed, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, celery seed, sesame seed, tarragon, chives, and parsley.
http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blv110.htm recipes
Some sun-dried tomatoes need to be reconstituted
Sun-dried tomato tips
Unless they are already packing in oil, sun-dried tomatoes will need to be reconstituted before use. Just let them soak in warm water for thirty minutes until soft and pliable, drain (reserve the liquid to add flavor to stocks and sauces), pat dry and use as directed in your recipe. You can also use wine, broth, or other cooking liquid to reconstitute. Once reconstituted, use them within several days or pack in olive oil and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To reconstitute in oil, simply cover the dried tomatoes with oil and refrigerate for 24 hours. To use oil-packed, drain tomatoes from oil and use. Always be sure that those left in the jar are completely covered with oil, which may mean adding more oil as you use the tomatoes. Don't toss out that oil when you're done with the tomatoes.
It will pick up flavor from the tomatoes and be great in salad dressings or used for stir-frys and sauteing.
Cooking with sun-dried tomatoes
The flavor of sun-dried tomatoes is quite intense, concentrated, and slightly salty, so a little goes a long way. Many enjoy eating sun-dried tomatoes as a snack out of hand, especially children. Although they are wonderful with pasta, you'll enjoy using sun-dried tomatoes with many other foods, including vegetables, meats, and breads.

http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blv53.htm sun dried tomato recipies

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