What to do with the windfall of tomatoes? This year I dehydrated tomatoes and I can’t wait to use them in recipes!
I never buy store tomatoes after the summer. They have no taste, are mealy and are not organic. This year I grew a lot of tomatoes, especially the mini plum tomatoes and I have too many to eat raw.
I also make tomato sauce with some. Now that I have a dehydrator, I thought I would dry them.
Technically the tomato is a fruit, but it is categorized as a vegetable.
The major phytochemicals in tomatoes are the carotenes, of which, lycopene and beta-carotene dominate. Other lycopenes include lutein and zeaxanthin (these are not in tomatoes) which have been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Lycopene is a powerful anti-oxidant.
Interestingly, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, no vitamin A activity can be derived from lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.
In contrast the provitamin A carotenoids – α-carotene, β-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin – can be converted by the body to retinol (vitamin A). Tomatoes will provide the provitamin β-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A.
However, according to the Linus Pauling Institute,
Provitamin A carotenoids are less easily absorbed than preformed vitamin A and must be converted to retinol and other retinoids by the body… The efficiency of conversion of provitamin A carotenoids into retinol is highly variable, depending on factors like food matrix, food preparation, and one’s digestive and absorptive capacities. (source)
This is what the Weston Price Foundation has been saying for years – that vitamin A is best obtained by eating animal products that provide the already formed vitamin A, not the provitamin A carotenoids.
It is important to note that the Linus Pauling Institute also states,
Carotenoids are best absorbed with fat in a meal. Chopping, puréeing, and cooking carotenoid-containing vegetables in oil generally increase the bioavailability of the carotenoids they contain.
For dietary carotenoids to be absorbed intestinally, they must be released from the food matrix and incorporated into mixed micelles (mixtures of bile salts and several types of lipids). Food processing and cooking help release carotenoids embedded in their food matrix and increase intestinal absorption. Moreover, carotenoid absorption requires the presence of fat in a meal. As little as 3 to 5 g of fat in a meal appears sufficient to ensure carotenoid absorption, although the minimum amount of dietary fat required may be different for each carotenoid. (source)
Here again, the Weston Price Foundation as been insistent that the provitamin A molecules are not easily converted to vitamin A – especially in children and others who may have compromised digestive systems.
Additionally, you need to eat vegetables with fats for better adsorption. Clearly, this is based on the wisdom of the ages, as well as science.
They are also a great source of vitamin C for immunity, potassium for cardiac health, folate for cell function and vitamin K and blood clotting and bone health.
Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, providing about 1.5 grams per average sized tomato.
Other plant compounds in tomatoes include Naringenin, which is found in the tomato skin. This flavonoid has been shown to decrease inflammation and protect against various diseases in mice.
Find my recipe for 3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce in 12 Minutes here!
If you cannot tolerate tomatoes you may want to check out my No Tomato Sauce recipe and video.Print
Fresh homegrown tomatoes of any variety
Store in refrigerator soaking in extra virgin olive oil (these will stay for only a week or two this way)
How to Use Dried Tomatoes
You might be interested in this recipe for tomato soup.