That the tomato is the world’s most popular fruit? And yes, just like the brinjal and the pumpkin, botanically speaking it is a fruit, not a vegetable. A fruit is the edible part of the plant that contains the seeds, while a vegetable is the edible stems, leaves and roots of the plant.
More than 60 million tonnes of tomatoes are produced every year, 16 million tonnes more than the second most popular fruit, the banana. Apples are the third most popular (36 million tonnes), followed by oranges (34 million tonnes) and watermelons (22 million tonnes).
Tomatoes were first cultivated in 700AD by the Aztecs and the Incas. Explorers returning from Mexico introduced the fruit in Europe, where it was first mentioned in 1556. The French called it “the apple of love” and the Germans “the apple of paradise”.
There are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes. The scientific term for the common tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means “wolf peach”. It’s a cousin of the eggplant, red pepper, ground cherry, potato and the highly toxic belladonna.
A tip: Don’t store ripe tomatoes in the fridge; cold temperatures lessen the flavour of tomatoes.