Tomatoes weren’t always red, and there’s now a full rainbow of possibilities from this fruit.
One of the most common pieces of nutritional advice in recent years has been to get as much color on the plate as possible. That’s because color is often associated with fruits and vegetables, and both provide important nutrients that keep your body in top shape.
Usually, getting as much color on the plate as you can means loading up with a lot of different vegetables. However, a rainbow tomato salad allows you to take care of almost the entire color spectrum without ever once switching plants. As long as you can find them at the grocery store, it’s possible to get red, yellow, orange, green and even purple tomatoes into your meal — with just one dish to put away!
What Color Are Tomatoes Naturally?
Believe it or not, tomatoes did not start out as a red fruit. Initially, tomatoes were either orange or yellow, but over time, red has gradually become the more dominant color. This is in part because the tomato growing industry has favored a genetic mutation where lycopene dominates and red becomes the most common color of the tomato. Some varieties of yellow and orange tomatoes do still exist, but those are more commonly known as heirloom tomatoes these days.
What Are Heirloom Tomatoes?
Heirloom tomatoes are tomatoes that are grown naturally, without the genetic mutation and without becoming a hybrid of multiple tomato plants. Because of that, heirloom tomatoes can vary wildly in both taste and color. As a general rule with tomatoes, the fruit’s taste is determined by the presence of both sugars and acids. A fruit that’s high on sugar and low on acid yields a sweet taste, like a pear, and a fruit that’s the opposite tastes sour, like a lemon.
For most people, the ideal mix for a tomato is a fruit that is high in both sugar and acid, creating a tomato that isn’t too sweet, too sour or too bland.
How Do Different Colors Come About?
With most tomatoes, there are only two possible colors: green and red. Tomatoes start out green before they’ve had a chance to fully ripen and gain their red color as they reach full maturity. With heirloom tomatoes, there is no mutation to add lycopene, so orange, yellow and even purple varieties are possible. In most cases, but not all, orange and yellow tomatoes have less acid than red tomatoes and create a sweeter tasting fruit.
What Are The Health Benefits of Tomatoes?
Adding lycopene might have changed the taste of tomatoes, but it does have some serious benefits. It’s a major antioxidant that helps fight off cancer and heart disease, and it provides several important nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K and folate. They’re also an excellent source of fiber.
How Do You Make Rainbow Tomato Salad?
Making this dish couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is go to your farmer’s market (or grocer) and pick up multiple kinds of tomatoes to give your salad a good mix of both colors and flavors. Once you’ve sliced them, you’ll want to toss them with balsamic vinegar and sea salt until you have the ideal taste. If you’ve got a specialty vinegar that you’ve purchased, this would be an excellent time to use it. Basil also makes a great addition to this salad to get even more freshness into it.
Heirloom tomatoes have become quite popular in recent years for their flavors and colors, and their health benefits make it easy to see why. They’re a great way to provide a colorful meal for the family that you can customize with almost any taste you want!