Interesting Facts About Tomato Seeds

Overview

Tomato seeds and plants trace their origins to the Aztecs. When Spanish explorers returned to Europe in the 1600s they carried tomato seeds and plants with them. Southern Europe embraced whole tomatoes into the culinary tradition, while other regions like England thought it poisonous. Part of the association with poison comes from tomatoes belonging to the Solanaceae family, which includes deadly nightshade. Across the ocean, tomato seeds didn't become popular for kitchen gardens until right around the Civil War, after which tomatoes slowly became common in global pantries.

Controversy

Tomato seeds contribute to this plant's designation as a fruit, not a vegetable. Tomato plants flower. That flower turns into an ovary that grows with the seeds. While tomato meat and seeds have lower sugar than many fruits, that flavor profile provides them with far more diversified potential culinary applications. In the 1890s, the U.S. Supreme Court wrongly declared tomatoes as vegetables in order to collect duty on them based on the Tariff Act passed in 1883.

Varieties

According to Rutgers University, tomato seeds literally come in thousands of varieties. Some of the most interesting seed include the Ponderosa, which yields a fruit of up to three pounds, Jubilee and Lemon Boy that produce sweet orange and yellow fruits, and heirloom seeds that produce historical varieties of tomatoes not readily available today.

Benefits

Studies performed by the University of California indicate that tomato pomace with seeds retains high levels of Vitamin E, which has antioxidant qualities. The jellied region around tomato seeds also holds rich quantities of Vitamin C.

Considerations

The healthier the tomato seeds chosen, the hardier the plants grown. Check through any package of tomato sees looking for ones that have debris, ones that have small sprouts, or those with mold. Discard those seeds as they're not a good choice for your garden. Plant tomato seeds when the frost risk passes; they like the soil warm. Put the seeds down about 1/4 inch in loose, damp soil. Leave these in a sunny protected area to germinate. Tomato seeds generally sprout within a week of planting.

Preserving

Dry your tomato seeds to preserve them for future growing seasons. Use a ceramic plate, spreading the seeds out. Leave the plat in a cool, dry location out of the sun. Seeds ready for storage break neatly without rubbery resistance. When stored in a dark, air tight container tomato seeds last for years.

Significance

Tomato seeds feature in a traditional Rosh Hashanah dish called Bellahat. The recipe calls for tomato meat along with the seeds mixed with cumin and ground fish. In this setting the seeds represent one of the Holiday themes--abundance in the coming year.

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About this Author

Patricia Telesco has been a writer since 1992. She has produced more than 60 books with publishers that include HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Her articles have appeared in "Woman's World" and "National Geographic Today." Telesco holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Buffalo.