When we think about summer vegetables, what comes to mind? There are two vegetables that pop into our minds right away – tomatoes and cucumbers! Tomatoes and cucumbers are so abundant on Long Island during the summer months/
The tomato, also known as Solanum lycopersicu, is a fruit from the nightshade family. Tomatoes are native to South America.
Despite botanically being a fruit, it’s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable. The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates and fiber.
Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Lycopene, the most abundant carotenoid in ripened tomatoes is particularly noteworthy when it comes to the fruit’s plant compounds. It’s found in the highest concentrations in the skin of the tomato. Generally, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.
Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.
Usually red when mature, tomatoes can also come in a variety of beautiful colors, including yellow, orange, green, and purple. What’s more, many subspecies of tomatoes exist with different shapes and flavor.
When tomatoes start to ripen, they produce a gaseous hormone called ethylene Commercially grown tomatoes are harvested and transported while still green and immature. To make them red before selling, food companies spray them with artificial ethylene gas. This process inhibits the development of natural flavor and may result in tasteless tomatoes. This is why it is so important to purchase locally grown tomatoes from local farmsteads during season. Locally grown tomatoes taste better because they’re allowed to ripen naturally.
If you buy unripened tomatoes, you can speed up the ripening process by wrapping them in a sheet of newspaper and keeping them on the kitchen counter for a few days. Just make sure to check them daily for ripeness.
Cucumbers, also know ascCucumis sativus, are widely-cultivated creeping vine plants in the Cucurbitaceae gourd family that bear cucumiform fruits, which are used as vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber—slicing, pickling, and burpless/seedless.
Are Cucumbers Fruits or Vegetables?
It has been proven that cucumber also develops from the flower of the plant and contains the seeds, making it a fruit. Keeping this definition of fruit in mind, even vegetables like beans, peppers, pumpkin and tomatoes are categorized as fruits.
Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. These low-calorie vegetables contain many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and valuable nutrients.
There are hundreds of varieties of cucumber, and they come in dozens of colors, but the edible types are classified as being for either slicing or pickling. Slicing cucumbers are cultivated to be eaten fresh, while pickling cucumbers are intended for the brine jar. Slicing cucumbers are usually larger and thicker-skinned than pickling ones.
In the United States, commonly planted varieties of slicing cucumber include Dasher, Conquistador, Slicemaster, Victory, Comet, Burpee Hybrid and Sprint. Commonly planted varieties of pickling cucumber include Royal, Calypso, Pioneer, Bounty, Regal, Duke and Blitz.
Cucumbers are good sources of phytonutrients (plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties) such flavonoids, lignans and triterpenes, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Cucumbers are naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fat and cholesterol and are filled with water! They help with hydration especially on hot, humid days!