Tomatoes: Jersey’s Finest Fruit!

By | April 7, 2013

Tom(ay)to – Tom(aahh)to!  Whatever way you say it, this Jersey girl is about to “dish” on that amazing fruit (yup it’s a fruit!).

But I’m not talking just any tomatoes, I’m talking about the one and only “Jersey Tomato” which, in my humble opinion, is the best of its kind anywhere.

Jersey seems to have made it to the map with “Jersey Shore’s Snooky and The Situation” –  but this Chef really believes our big attraction is, in fact, this prime produce.

A really good tomato is sweet, tender, juicy, and except for the yellow varieties, a deep rich red color.  The Jersey Tomato is all of that.  You can count on their amazing sweet taste, especially this month.

Did you bring a batch of tomatoes home in your grocery bag that tasted like cardboard?

Chances are you got the variety created by scientists and big business that began in the 1950′s.  They can be shipped from one coast to the other without bruising, but sadly, when they bred these great travelers, they zapped out the flavor!

It’s peak season for Jersey tomatoes…

And there’s nothing like a farm fresh, ripe red tomato.  If you are growing your own, you are probably starting to have more than you can possibly know what to do with.  Since you will be hard pressed to find anything this delicious in Fall or Winter, now is a great time to start cooking up sauce and freezing it for the months to come.

If you are willing to buy some jars and spend a little time – canning them is another great option to have them all year long. Part of my attached recipe will show you a super simple sauce with only 5 ingredients – so easy and tastes like it simmered all day long.

Whether you grow them or buy them from the market, there’s one thing you must know about all tomatoes: Do not refrigerate these beauties!

That’s the fastest way to destroy the flavor, texture and the phenomenal nutrients that are housed in this amazing fruit.

There are tremendous health benefits associated with the tomato.  They contain Lycopene which is an anti-oxidant super hero.  The body does not make lycopene, so it depends on food sources to supply it.

Here are 5 fantastic reasons to chow down those tomatoes:

1 – They will make your skin look great. It’s Beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, helps protect skin against sun damage. Tomatoes’ lycopene also makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles.

2 – They will improve the look and texture of your hair. Their Vitamin A content works to make hair strong and shiny.

3 – They will help your bones. Lycopene has been shown to improve bone mass, which is a great way to fight osteoporosis.

4 – They will help your eyesight. The vitamin A that tomatoes provide can also improve vision and help prevent night blindness. Recent research shows that consuming tomatoes may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious and irreversible eye condition.

5 – They are a natural cancer fighter. Once again because of the lycopene.  It can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal, prostate and ovarian cancer.

Wow!  What an impressive list of reasons to love tomatoes and that’s just part of the story.

Even better news is that Lycopene, which is clearly a powerhouse anti-oxidant, increases when tomatoes are cooked.  So pasta sauce really is a health food after all! They make such a wonderful addition to almost any savory dish.  Be generous and add lots of them to soups, stews, casseroles, omelets, etc.  Don’t be stingy with that tomato sauce – pour it on anything you like!

Growing up with best tomatoes on earth, we used to have tomato sandwiches all summer long in my house.  We grew tomatoes in our garden – my Dad had a very green thumb!  There was nothing like picking a fresh Jersey tomato from the backyard, slicing it up and putting it on a great roll.

By now you know this Digestive Diva does all her cooking gluten-free.  Here’s a really awesome combo.  Slice a nice ripe Jersey and put it on a warm Scharr’s G-free Ciabatta roll, a couple of basil leaves, sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  It’s a summer “must have” in my Jersey household.

If you’re looking for a special summer dinner with your luscious tomatoes, click HERE  for an amazing recipe that everyone will love.  It’s “Zucchini Linguini Shrimp” with Tomato Basil Sauce.  Not only is this easy – but you will be deemed sheer genius for serving this.  It’s up there with any gourmet pasta dish and won’t pack on a single pound.

So head to your nearest farm, farm stand or farmer’s market (or your own backyard) and gather up a big basket of Jersey tomatoes.

Now let your imagination go or find a yummy recipe – or just gobble it up raw for a perfect sweet/savory summer snack.

Ellen Harnett, one half of The Digestive Divas from Back to Basic Wellness

Ellen is a Kitchen Coach & Natural Foods Chef and Kathy  is a Holistic Nutrition Coach. Together, they are the Digestive Divas. They are 2 sassy women who have been friends for a very long time. Together they have experienced most of the challenges that life can bring. They combine their wisdom and their passion for nourishing food and healthy living to bring a fresh perspective to women who are struggling to care for themselves and their families.