A fruit from the nightshade family (like the potato and eggplant). The U.S. government classified it as a vegetable for trade purposes in 1893. Tomatoes should not be refrigerated–the cold adversely affects the flavor and the flesh.
The word “tomato” may refer to the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) or the edible, typically red, fruit that it bears. Having originated in México, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates.
The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes (as well as by the United States Supreme Court, see Nix v. Hedden), which has caused some confusion. The fruit is rich in lycopene, which may have beneficial health effects.
The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. The plants typically grow to 1 to 3 meters (3 to 10 feet) in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. It is a perennial in its native habitat, although often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual. An average common tomato weighs 102 to 105 grams.
The tomato has had a wide variety of uses since its introduction into Europe in the early 16th Century. Depending on the culture or region where grown and used, the tomato is used in different manners. From sauces to soups, salads to sorbets, the tomato has a seemingly endless range of culinary uses. It may be eaten raw or cooked, or consumed as a beverage (juiced).