Deliciously sweet, juicy, cherry tomatoes are small, cherry-sized fruits having distinct bright colors and pleasant flavor which distinguish them from other tomato sub types. These tiny berries are one of the most sought-after for their vividly bright and attractive colors, be it cooked in the dishes or raw in salads.
Botanically, cherry tomatoes belong to the same Solanaceae or nightshade family of plants, which also include chili peppers, potato and eggplants. It thought to have originated in the Central America from the wild tomato cultivars.
Botanical name: Solanum lycopersicum L. var. Cerasiforme.
|Cherry tomatoes. Courtesy: Tim Sackton|
Cherry tomato is a warm-weather plant; while, bush types usually are annuals, vine types (indeterminate -pole type) are perennial climbers unless destroyed by lack of nutrition support or attacked by high frost conditions at any stage of growth.
Clay and loam soils provide ideal conditions for plentiful crops. In case of vine type their long, climbing "indeterminate" stems need support of stakes for proper growth.
Fruits develop from flower ovaries (like berries); either bilocular or multilocular, measuring around 2-3 cm across. Many heirloom and hybrid varieties in different colors are cultivated for their sweet "tomato flavored", small, round to oval berries.
Harvesting is done by hand at maturity after about 80 to 110 days after planting. In vine -indeterminate types, harvesting continue for 70 to 120 days or longer; picked 1-3 times per week.
Cherry tomatoes hold same claories as regular, large tomatoes; 18 calories per 100g.
Despite being very low in calories and fat, they are excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary-fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Cherries are fine sources of antioxidants including lycopene, zea-xanthin, cryptoxanthin, and α and β-carotenes.
Lycopene, a flavonoid antioxidant, is a unique phytochemical compound found in the tomatoes. Red cherry tomatoes tend to possess more of this antioxidant. Together with carotenoids, lycopene may decrease the risk of certain cancers and heart disease and also help to keep the immune system healthy. through scavenging harmful oxygen-free radicals. Studies show that lycopene protects the skin from ultra-violet (UV) rays and thus offers some defence against skin cancer.
Zea-xanthin is another flavonoid compound present abundantly in cherry tomatoes. Zeaxanthin helps protect eyes from "age-related macular related macular disease" (ARMD) in the older adults by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
Cherry tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamin-A; 100g provides 833 IU (28% daily recommended levels). Together with flavonoid antioxidants such as α and ß-carotenes, xanthins and lutein, vitamin-A plays a major role as antioxidant, help maintain healthy mucosa and skin. Consumption of natural food items rich in flavonoids has been found to help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Further, these tiny berries are vary good source of antioxidant vitamin-C (provide 21% of recommended daily levels per 100 g); consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
Fresh cherry tomato is very rich in potassium. 100 g contain 237 mg of potassium and just 5 mg of sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure caused by sodium.
Moreover, they compose healthy levels of B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and other trace elements. On account of their versatile health giving qualities, nutrition scientists recommend them in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction diet programs.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.2 g||0.7%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.2 g||3%|
|Vitamin A||833 IU||28%|
|Vitamin C||13 mg||21.5%|
|Vitamin E||0.54 mg||4%|
|Vitamin K||7.9 μg||6.5%|
You can buy fresh cherry tomatoes all around the year in supermarkets and grocery stores. Choose bright, intact cherry tomatoes without cracks or wrinkles, firm but yielding to slight pressure. Avoid soft, spotted or damaged ones.
At room temperature, fresh cherry tomatoes stay well for 2-3 days, away from sunlight. Do not wash them until using. If not using for immediate use, store them in the fridge for extended shelf-life. For better flavor and rich taste, place them at room temperature for about 30 min before eating.
Wash in cold water and mop dry using a paper towel. Remove caps.
To prepare, remove top calyx (caps). Unlike in large tomato variants, many prefer using whole cherry tomatoes in dishes and salads. If you still prefer sliced, cut them into halves or cubes.
|Quiche-cherry tomatoes, spinach and and goat cheese
Courtesy: Saraha & Jason
Here are some serving tips:
Cherry tomatoes generally preferred in salads and gentle stir-fries especially in Mediterranean, Greek, Italian cuisines.
Cherry tomato can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw, ripe cherries can be enjoyed out of hand in a way like table grapes.
Cherry tomatoes dressed with vinaigrette relished in hors d'oeuvre (appetizer) and sandwiches.
They can make dishes look vibrant and chefs always prefer them as to add special decorative effect in dishes.
They also perfect accompaniment to fish, beef, chicken veal, or eggs.
Popular as pomodoro ciliegino, cherries commonly featured in pizzas, quiche, tarts, and salads in the Italian cuisine.
Allergy/hypersensitivity reactions to cherry tomatoes are relatively rare to occur. However, it may sometimes occur in sensitive individuals with symptoms like itching skin and eyes, runny nose, and gastrointestinal disturbances like stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. (Medical Disclaimer).
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Department of Horticulture- Purdue University Cooperative extension service. (Link opens in new window).