Is the Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable?
Trivia time! What’s a fruit and a vegetable and the source of likely hundreds of dinner table arguments in any given year? If you’ve had one of these friendly yet mildly heated discussions yourself, you may have guessed it. It’s a tomato! While technically its composition indicates that it is in fact a fruit due to its growth from a flowering plant, I wouldn’t be even remotely inclined to add it to my fruit salad on any given occasion. That said, vegetables are by definition roots, leaves, or stems. Due to the savory, slightly acidic flavor of a tomato, we generally feel it belongs in this group. So, to resolve the debate: fruit by nature, but totally a vegetable. Keep reading. I share a recipe that allows you to blend fruits and tomatoes together. Seeing how fun canning can be? Canning tomatoes and making tomato apple chutney this fall is fun, easy and delicious!
Now that we have that settled, let’s talk variety. Did you know there are over 3,000 heirloom/heritage tomato varieties in cultivation currently, and over 15,000 variety overall that we know about!? If you started today and tried a new variety every day for the rest of your life, you might be able to try them all. Who’s up for the challenge?!
How have tomatoes changed over the decades?
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. They’re great for people suffering with diabetes; tomatoes help protect the kidneys and lower cholesterol levels. Many do complain that tomatoes do not taste the same today as they did 40 years ago. Have you heard your grandparents say something along these lines? If so, they may be onto something…
An international study published in the Journal of Science claims tomatoes don’t taste the way they used to prior to varieties popping up everywhere. In our efforts to mass produce, promote even ripening, and encourage resistance to chemicals, we have inadvertently removed a good portion of the 100 compounds responsible for making a tomato taste tomato-y! To combat this less than desirable change, consider buying locally. A farmer’s market tomato might not look quite as beautiful, but it might be a little more flavorful, and you’ll be helping a neighbor.
Recipes for Canning Tomatoes
If you’re looking for an easy canning recipe to start with, try my Basil Diced Tomatoes. I often tell people this is also a great recipe to use when learning to work with your pressure canner for the first time. Basil Diced Tomatoes recipe uses Roma tomatoes and is simple yet delicious and incredibly versatile. Roma tomatoes are great for canning because of their thin skin and have less liquid and seeds than other varieties. Personally, I only use Romas when canning because of their thin skin. I leave their skins on when canning. Not having to blanch and peel tomatoes is such a time-saver!
In addition to my Basil Diced Tomatoes, here is another fun recipe from my latest book, The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning. Tomato Chutney is another fun, easy recipe that is truly a fall favorite in my home.
Makes approximately 8 pints or 16 half-pints
Prep Time: 30 min / Cook Time: 60 min / Canner Time: 50 min / Processing Time: 10 min / Total Time: 150 min
Say good-by to traditional ketchup and hello to tomato chutney—you will never look at condiments the same after making this amazing chutney! Full of flavor with a slight kick of ginger and red pepper, use this chutney anywhere ketchup is typically enjoyed. Need a good meal idea? Slather a half-pint on your homemade meatloaf and bake as usual.
5 pounds or 10 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (10 cups)
3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2½ cups red wine vinegar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups raisins
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped (1½ cups)
1 large yellow onion, chopped (1½ cups)
1 head garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 1 lime
- Place the tomatoes, brown sugar, red wine and cider vinegars, raising, bell peppers, onion, garlic, mustard seeds, ginger, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, lime juice and zest into a large stockpot and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Once at a full boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour with lid off, stirring frequently as the chutney begins to thicken.
- Ladle the hot chutney into jars leaving ½ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and add more chutney if necessary to maintain the headspace.
- Wipe the rim of each jar with a warm wet washcloth dipped in distilled white vinegar. Place a lid and ring on each jar and hand tighten.
- Place the sealed jars in the pressure canner, lock the pressure canner lid, and bring to a boil on high heat. Let the canner vent for 10 minutes. Close the vent and continue heating to achieve 6 PSI for a dial gauge and 5 PSI for a weighted gauge. Process pints and half-pints for 10 minutes.
Ingredient Tip: Prefer more heat to your chutney? Increase the red pepper flakes to 2 tablespoons. Want a warm, fall flavor? Skip the red pepper flakes and add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cloves.
Happy Canning Everyone~
Diane, The Canning Diva®