Tomatoes originate from the Andes in South America, where they grow wild in what is now Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador. They were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD.
Tomatoes were originally grown in Britain and the rest of Europe as ornamental climbers and were cultivated for their decorative leaves and fruit. The first known British tomato grower was Patrick Bellow in 1554.
Tomatoes are now the most widely grown 'vegetable' in the world and are cultivated as far north as Iceland and as far south as the Falkland Islands.
It has been of much debate over the years as to whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable?
According to the American farmers, 'Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of the vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas.
When it is agreed that a tomato is a fruit, it is considered as one of the most popular fruits after bananas, apples and oranges.
A fifth of the total volume of tomatoes sold in the UK through the year is home grown. (British Tomato Growers Association)
Premium tomatoes, such as tomatoes on the vine, are driving growth in the market and now account for half of the UK tomato production.
In the UK tomatoes are grown in glasshouses.
The largest tomato glasshouse covers 26.5 acres, but is currently being extended to 44.5 acres, or 18 hectares. That’s the size of 25 international football pitches.
Production is far higher under glasshouse conditions than from outdoor field crops as they are easily damaged by the wind, extremes of temperature or fluctuating weather conditions.
On the other hand, under glasshouse conditions, the aerial environment and crop irrigation and nutrition can be controlled thereby avoiding disease infections.
Flavour in tomatoes is related to the sugar and acid concentration in the fruit. For the best flavour, high sugars and relatively high acids are required. High acids and low sugars will produce a sharp-tasting tomato,...