The tomato story

Tangy, acidic, sweet, and juicy—the tomato's flavor profile puts it in prime position in kitchens around the world. But there is more to a tomato than its taste ...

Discovering the "golden apple"

Tomatoes originated in the coastal highlands of western South America where they were grown by the Aztecs and Mayans. They grow wild in Ecuador, northern Chile, Peru, and the Galapagos Islands—they are thought to have been brought here in the stomachs of turtles. The first written description of tomatoes, by the Italian Pietro Andrea Matthiola in 1544, referred to them as Mala aurea, or "golden apples." However, their close relationship to poisonous plants, such as the woody nightshade vine, meant they didn't receive the same regard when introduced more widely. (This suspicion isn't completely unfounded—tomato leaves do contain the poisonous chemical tomatine.) The tomato's great flavor didn't hide for long, however, and it soon became a welcome addition to cuisines around the world.

A wealth of varieties

New varieties arose by natural cross-pollination and selection, bringing us the largest beefsteaks to the smallest cherry tomatoes. Now, with over 5,000 varieties of all shapes and sizes, you will be able to find ones that suit your taste and planting space—whether its a sunny windowsill, pot, plot, or patio—perfectly. Healthy, easy to grow, and easy to care for, it's no wonder they are the most popular home crop. Use the following pages to choose which varieties to grow, then find out how best to nurture them, and finally choose a recipe that will allow you to enjoy your harvest in all its glory ...

Exotic Fruiting tomato plants are a beautiful sight in the garden—no wonder they are sometimes referred to as "love apples."

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