Tomatoes were first grown in Italy and in the south-eastern Mediterranean area. Tomatoes are rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C. Round tomatoes account for the largest market share. They are suitable for both cooking and salads. Their sweet and sour flavor can be enhanced by adding a pinch of sugar. Green parts, which should always be removed before eating, indicate the presence of the toxic substance solanine.
Botanically a fruit, tomatoes are eaten as a vegetable. Oval shaped plum tomatoes (also called Italian or Roma) are thick and meaty with less juice and smaller seeds than other varieties, which makes them ideal for sauces. They are sold fresh, or in tins sometimes flavored with basil and other seasonings. Other tinned or bottle forms include tomatoes cooked with celery, onions and seasonings; tomato paste, a highly concentrated puree; and sweet, chewy dried tomatoes, either plain or oil-packed.
Beefsteak tomatoes are large, with a very fruity flavor and a high proportion of meaty flesh. They are best enjoyed raw but can also be sued in hot dishes.
Plum tomatoes are named for their shape and are the ones peeled and canned in great quantities. They have an excellent flavor but only develop with cooking, so they are not the best for salads, although they are very firm and with a very deep red color. The canned ones are excellent for the use in dishes.
Cherry tomatoes are a relatively novelty. These mini-tomatoes have fruity flavor and are ideal for garnishing and salads.
You can keep the tomatoes for several days at room temperature, longer in the refrigerator.