Tomato, an exceptional crop, without which not only Italian cuisine would not be what it is.

We can almost always find it in Czech gardens.

A tomato grown by hand is a symphony of flavors and aromas.

We love it raw, as the main ingredient in tomato sauce and in combination with pasta.

Are you still wondering whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable?

Did you know that there are variations in almost every color of the rainbow?

Can its consumption really protect us from cancer?

And how to grow it not only in the garden, but also on the balcony?

We will tell you all this and much more in our article.

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

Can you imagine your menu without tomatoes? No tomato sauce or soup and many other dishes would be much poorer without them. The tomato is one of the crops that are used in the kitchen in many different ways. The edible tomato in Latin, Solanum lycopersicon, is also often referred to as the apple of paradise . Both names, tomato and apple of paradise, evoke the word paradise, supposedly owing to their delicious taste.

When we say apple, we immediately think of fruit. But determining whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is always a bit of a problem.


It depends from which point of view we look at the tomato . Many people consider it a vegetable based on its use and specific taste. It can also be found among vegetables in stores. Gardeners are also inclined towards the fact that it is a vegetable, because they grow tomatoes as annual plants, which cannot be said about other fruits. However, from a botanical point of view, a tomato is a fruit. It is a perennial shrub whose fruits contain seeds.

How to know tomatoes?

Tomatoes are currently grown in many different varieties, the fruits of which differ from each other in size, shape, color and taste. The typical color of a tomato is red, but tomatoes can also be yellow, orange, green, purple or whitish.

From the point of view of the size of the plant and its specifics for cultivation, tomatoes are divided into several different types. On one side there are large and “meaty” tomatoes, on the other end there are small “cherry” tomatoes. Among them, of course, there is a wide range of fruits of different sizes.

Bush tomatoes

Sometimes they are also called determinant tomatoes, because they only grow to a limited height, a maximum of around 70 cm. Their basic characteristic is that they do not pinch and are mostly grown without a support, so they take the form of a small bush or even crawl along the ground.

They are often grown for industrial use, such as ketchups, purees or juices, as they require less work and can be harvested by machines. Most species also have a lower water content and more dry matter, which makes them more suitable for industrial processing.

A bush variety of tomato that is grown without a support.

Stick tomatoes

Also known as indeterminate tomatoes, as the name implies, they need support for their growth. They usually have the form of one main stem, so they require regular pinching. Unlike bush tomatoes, which produce a large number of fruits in a short period of time, stick tomatoes bear fruit throughout the season. Most varieties grown in gardens are stick tomatoes. Depending on the conditions, they can grow several meters high.

Stick tomato variety with a support for its growth.

Balcony tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the crops that you can grow even in an apartment if you have a terrace or balcony. There are special varieties of tomatoes for this purpose, mostly dwarf bush varieties that can be planted in smaller containers, but there are also stick varieties.

Cherry tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes and other “fruity” tomatoes

In addition to balcony tomatoes, fruit-type tomatoes have also been popular in recent years, which are usually characterized by smaller fruits, a sweeter taste and many color shades. They are especially suitable for cold kitchens. Their names were often derived from the names of the fruits they resemble. The most famous example is cherry tomatoes, but there are also grape, plum, pear, date and currant tomatoes, as well as cocktail tomatoes, which are slightly larger than cherry tomatoes, but just as sweet and juicy.

Comparison of cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes in terms of shape and size.

Wild tomatoes

In addition to bush tomatoes, which do not require pruning, there are also wild tomatoes, which are less cultivated and thus have smaller fruits, but at the same time are more resistant to various diseases and pests. They grow rather luxuriantly and thus require a larger amount of space.

Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in tomatoes

The largest proportion of a raw tomato is water, almost 95%, and its low caloric value is also related to this. The remaining 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates and fiber. From the point of view of vitamins, it is a rich source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, and to a lesser extent, various B vitamins can be found in it. It is interesting to compare the raw tomato with its dried form and typical tomato products such as tomato puree, ketchup and juice.

Raw tomato
100 g
Dried tomato
100 g
Tomato puree
100 g
100 g
100 g
Energy 18 calories 213 calories 82 kcal 24 kcal 17 calories
Water 94.5 g 53.8 g 73.5 g 91.3 g 94.2 g
Carbohydrates 3.89 g 23.3 g 18.9 g 5.31 g 3.53 g
Proteins 0.88 g 5.06 g 4.32 g 1.2 g 0.85 g
Fats 0.2 g 14.1 g 0.47 g 0.3 g 0.29 g
Fiber 1.2 g 5.8 g 4.1 g 1.5 g 0.4 g
Raw tomato
100 g
Dried tomato
100 g
Tomato puree
100 g
100 g
100 g
Beta-carotene 449 µg 901 µg 8280 µg 270 µg
Vitamin B1 0.037 mg 0.193 mg 0.06 mg 0.024 mg 0.1 mg
Vitamin B2 0.019 mg 0.383 mg 0.153 mg 0.065 mg 0.078 mg
Vitamin B3 0.594 mg 3.63 mg 3.08 mg 0.991 mg 0.673 mg
Vitamin B5 0.089 mg 0.479 mg 0.142 mg 0.309 mg
Vitamin B6 0.08 mg 0.319 mg 0.216 mg 0.098 mg 0.07 mg
Vitamin C 13.7 mg 102 mg 21.9 mg 7 mg 70.1 mg
Potassium 237 mg 1560 mg 1010 mg 297 mg 217 mg
Phosphorus 24 mg 139 mg 83 mg 27 mg 19 mg
Magnesium 11 mg 81 mg 42 mg 15 mg 11 mg
Sodium 5 mg 266 mg 59 mg 11 mg 10 mg
Calcium 10 mg 47 mg 36 mg 14 mg 10 mg
Zinc 0.17 mg 0.78 mg 0.63 mg 0.22 mg 0.11 mg
Iron 0.27 mg 2.68 mg 2.98 mg 0.96 mg 0.39 mg

Tomatoes for health

Tomatoes are a major source of the antioxidant lycopene. In addition, they are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin K and folic acid. Their regular consumption thus helps to prevent a number of health problems.

  • Miracle lycopene – chlorophylls and carotenoids like lycopene are responsible for the rich color of tomatoes. When the ripening process begins, chlorophyll degradation (green) and carotenoid synthesis (red) occur. Lycopene is the most abundant carotenoid in ripe tomatoes, with the highest concentration found in the peel. In general, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains. This antioxidant is associated with many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

  • Cardiovascular disease – studies link low blood levels of lycopene and beta-carotene to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. More and more research also suggests that supplementing with lycopene can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, and tomatoes have also been shown to have a positive effect on the inner layer of blood vessels and help reduce the risk of blood clotting.

  • Cancer prevention – observational studies have linked tomatoes and tomato products to a lower incidence of prostate, lung and stomach cancer. The high lycopene content is thought to be responsible, but more research is needed to confirm these beneficial effects. High concentrations of carotenoids, which are found in large quantities in tomatoes, help protect against breast cancer as well.

  • Skin health – Tomatoes and other foods rich in lycopene and other plant compounds can protect against sunburn.

  • Immune system – due to the high content of vitamin C and other substances, regular consumption of tomatoes strengthens our immune system.

Are tomatoes healthier raw or cooked?

To be honest, there is no clear answer to this question. It is of course true that some valuable substances are destroyed by heat treatment or their content is reduced. However, when it comes to the above-mentioned lycopene, its absorption is, on the contrary, much easier for our organism from tomatoes that have undergone heat treatment.

With skin or without skin?

While some people find the skin to be uncomfortable because it “sticks to the palate or gets stuck in their teeth,” and some recipes call for you to remove the skin from the tomatoes, it’s generally better not to peel the tomatoes and eat them whole. The peel contains the most plant compounds that have a demonstrably positive effect on our health.

Removing the tomato skin.

When and why not to eat tomatoes?

Eating green unripe tomato fruits can cause poisoning. Unripe tomatoes, as well as unripe spots on the stem, contain the poison tomanin. This is similar to the substance solanine, which is contained in unripe potatoes. Tomanin cannot be destroyed by heat treatment. Poisoning is manifested by nausea, headache, stomach cramps, vomiting or burning in the throat.

Due to the higher content of malic and citric acid, the consumption of tomatoes can also trigger the production of excessive amounts of stomach acid. This can be the cause of heartburn. You should not consume tomatoes even if you suffer from diarrhea, as they act as a natural laxative and could make your condition worse. Last but not least, people with kidney and urinary tract diseases should watch out for excessive consumption of tomatoes.

Unripe green tomatoes as a source of poisonous tomanine.

How to eat tomatoes?

One of the advantages of tomatoes is that they can be consumed and prepared in a very wide variety of ways, both in cold and warm cuisine. They are often eaten raw as part of salads and appetizers, cut into thin slices and served on sandwiches or added to various pasta, meat and vegetable dishes. They are also used in soups, stews and sauces.

Raw tomatoes

Ripe fresh tomatoes have a really unique taste. In addition to the fact that you can eat them alone or as part of a side dish, you can certainly also use them in the preparation of delicious tomato salads . Their taste goes well with various types of cheese, such as mozzarella, feta or parmesan, other vegetables, just remember the Šop salad, for example, and herbs, especially basil. Tomatoes combined with toasted bread or bruschetta are also unique. Recently, the consumption of tomato juice has also become very popular, as well as the combination of tomatoes with other types of fruit and vegetables and their processing into a healthy tomato smoothie .

Tomato sauces and soups

Heat-processed tomatoes are part of a whole range of diverse dishes. First of all, of course , various recipes for tomato soup come to mind. This can be made from fresh or canned tomatoes or even from tomato puree, it just depends on your preferences. Also, when preparing another classic, tomato sauce, you can use both tomatoes that have already been processed in the form of puree and fresh ones. Do you know how to prepare the best tomato sauce that will please your taste buds? The secret is in the broth.

Tomatoes and pasta

A separate chapter of culinary art is the use of tomatoes in Italian cuisine. A number of traditional Italian delicacies, including pasta and pizza, would not exist without tomatoes. Tomato is called pomodoro or golden apple in Italian. Liven up your menu with recipes for spaghetti pomodoro , the preparation is very simple, the taste is unique. Of course, Milanese or Bolognese spaghetti also belong to other classics.

Baked tomatoes

You can easily fill larger tomatoes with various mixtures of cheeses, herbs and other vegetables and then bake them in the oven. Alternatively, they can also be baked simply drizzled with olive oil and lightly seasoned, the result will be an original and very tasty accompaniment to meat.

Dried tomatoes

These are actually tomatoes cut into slices or cut in half and then dried in the sun or in the oven. By drying, the tomato acquires an intense sweet taste and a very chewy texture. Sun-dried tomatoes are available on their own, or they are often pickled in olive oil to soften them. Sun-dried tomatoes without oil must be soaked in water to rehydrate them before consumption. Want to make your own at home? The process of making dried tomatoes is very simple and you can then use them in the preparation of a whole range of dishes. They are used to flavor pasta, vegetable and meat dishes, they are also added to soups and dips, and last but not least, you can use them in recipes for sun-dried tomato spreads .

Oven-dried tomatoes.

How to scald and peel tomatoes?

When preparing soups or sauces, we do not need to peel the tomatoes, because the skin peels off by itself during cooking, and we usually strain or blend these dishes before serving. For other dishes, however, it is better to peel the tomatoes before adding them to the other ingredients. There is nothing complicated about it. Simply cut the tomatoes slightly crosswise and dip them in hot water for a few seconds or pour boiling water over them. Then remove the tomatoes and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. The peel can then be easily removed with a knife.

How to remove the seeds?

Some recipes require removing the seeds from the tomatoes. Simply cut them in half crosswise, squeeze the tomato gently and use a teaspoon to remove the seeds from each “chamber”.

Tomato products

Of course, many other products are made from tomatoes, which have a wide range of uses in the kitchen. In addition to dried tomatoes, which are often sold pickled in oil, other classic tomato products are mainly tomato paste, puree and ketchup.

Ketchup – one of the typical products made from tomatoes, or more precisely from tomato puree. This is the basic difference between ketchup and puree. While puree is made from tomatoes, ketchup is made only from tomato puree. In addition to it, other ingredients are water, sugar, salt, starch, fermented vinegar and other ingredients, for example, depending on whether the ketchup should be hot or not. The ingredients are first mixed cold and then heated to a temperature of approximately 90°C.

Tomato puree – it is much better to use tomato puree for cooking, which is made from ripe tomatoes that have been removed from the skin and seeds, the other ingredients are onions, garlic and spices. You can also make it very easily at home, making tomato puree is not complicated and you can also prepare different variants made special with various spices or herbs.

Tinned tinned tomatoes – if you want to have chunks of tomato in your dish, tinned tomatoes are better than puree. These are ripe peeled tomatoes, sometimes whole, sometimes sliced, that are preserved to have a longer shelf life. If these peeled tomatoes are strained, tomato puree is created.

Tomato juice – if you have a weakness for this drink, you can easily make it at home. Just cut the larger fresh tomatoes into pieces and simmer gently in a pot with a small amount of water. Then blend and strain the mixture to remove the skins and seeds. Afterwards, dilute the juice to taste with water and, if necessary, add honey or spices.

Tomato vinegar – it is vinegar fermented from the juice of freshly squeezed tomatoes.

A number of ready-made tomato sauces are also produced from the puree in combination with other ingredients.

Homemade tomato puree in a bowl.

Growing tomatoes

Tomatoes are among the most commonly grown crops in our gardens and we can often see them on balconies or terraces in cities. Home-grown tomatoes have many times better taste than purchased ones. However, their cultivation has its pitfalls, which are worth knowing.

Growing in the garden

Tomatoes are heat-loving, which is why it is most suitable for them to be grown in a greenhouse, greenhouse or on a bed protected by foil. It is best to pre-grow the tomato seedlings at home in a flower pot or cup. Planting the seeds is usually done during March, most varieties need about two months for the seedling to grow and become strong enough to be transplanted.

Transplanting is usually done after mid-May, when there is no longer a threat of ground frosts that could endanger the plants. Tomatoes are relatively demanding on the soil, the content of calcium and phosphorus is important, and they require regular fertilization. It is better to plant the plants deeper to make them more stable, stick tomatoes of course need support.

Tomato seedlings pre-grown in a pot.

Growing on the balcony

Even when growing on a balcony or terrace, it is advisable to first grow the plants and then plant them in sufficiently large flower pots, boxes or boxes. It is advisable to place a drain on the bottom of the container, which will drain excess water.

Tomato care and pruning

Tomatoes are among the plants for which regular watering is important. Uneven watering, especially when the plants already have fruit, can cause the tomatoes to crack. However, it is necessary to water the plants in such a way that their leaves do not get wet. Also watch out for spillage, which can cause mold. As we have already mentioned, regular fertilization is important, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are important elements for tomatoes. Tomatoes are relatively delicate, so it is necessary to protect them from, for example, intense rain or wind. Another problem is the frequent attack by various diseases and pests.

Stick-shaped tomatoes must be regularly pinched or removed from side shoots, which are called valves, during growth. These are all shoots that grow between the main stem and the leaf. It is advisable to check the plants regularly every week, so that the growth of the tomato’s carpels does not weaken and their removal does not cause damage to the plant. Harvest time depends on the variety, there are early and late ones. Fruits should be harvested when they are deeply colored but still firm, not soft.

The following varieties of tomatoes are suitable for home cultivation:

  • Tornádo F1 – universal variety of red rod-shaped tomato
  • Tumpling Tom Red or Yellow – an overhanging variety of cherry tomatoes with red or yellow fruits suitable for growing on balconies
  • Vilma – an overhanging variety with very tasty and aromatic red fruits
  • Beefsteak – an American variety of fleshy tomatoes with large, firm red fruits
  • Rosso Sicilian – a shrub variety with red ribbed fruits that resemble a flower when cut across
  • Perun – a variety with pear-shaped yellow fruits
  • Cherolla F1 – currant tomato
  • Black Krim – variety with dark burgundy to black fruits
The Rosso Sicilian variety, which when cut resembles the shape of a flower.

Storing tomatoes

Most of us store tomatoes in the fridge. Although, on the one hand, they last longer in it, on the other hand, too much cold causes them to lose part of their taste and aroma and become floury. If possible, it is therefore better to store tomatoes at room temperature. When tomatoes ripen, ethylene gas is released. For this reason, it should not be stored together with other fruits or vegetables, as ethylene accelerates spoilage.

Alternatively, chopped tomatoes or pureed tomatoes can also be frozen. When the tomato pieces are thawed, they do not stay firm and are not suitable for sandwiches or salads. However, frozen tomatoes are a tasty addition to dishes such as pasta sauces or soups.

The origin of tomatoes

Until the discovery of America, the world did not know tomatoes. Like potatoes, peppers or corn, tomatoes are a crop that originally comes from Latin America. It reached Europe only in the 16th century due to overseas discoveries, and in addition to southern Europe, it quickly spread to Asia as well. An interesting fact is that in some countries for a long time tomatoes were grown as an ornamental plant, not for consumption. China is currently the largest producer of tomatoes, followed by India and Turkey. In Europe, tomatoes are widely grown, especially in Italy and Spain.

Edible tomato, or Solanum lycopersicum, is a representative of the extensive family of eggplant plants. It is a perennial plant, but it is grown as an annual. Depending on the variety, the plant can reach a height of less than 1 meter or more than 5 meters. The inflorescence of tomatoes is a panicle with three to twenty flowers, which are bisexual, mostly white or yellow. The fruit is an apple of paradise, from a botanical point of view it is a berry. The stems, leaves and roots of tomatoes have been considered poisonous since time immemorial because they contain the alkaloid tomanine.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)