Tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, plants which give red fruit. In use is also name Lycopersicon esculentum. Although it's botanically a fruit, culinary it's vegetable, because it's not sweet. Tomato is used in many different ways in the kitchen, raw or cooked. It is probably derived in Central and South America. The plant is annual and usually is 1-3m high. Fruit is a berry which develops from the ovary of the plant. Thanks to greenhouses, we eat it during the whole year.
The name is from Aztec language tomatl, which Spanish made into tomate, and English into a tomato. Italian name is Pomodoro, which is taken by Polish and Russian. Germans called it Paradeisapfel, or "apple of paradise", which was transferred into Hungarian, Slovenian, and Serbian. In Iran it was called "Armenian eggplant", and now gojeh farangi , which means "foreign plum".
After the 15th century, Europe and Asia heard about tomato, thanks to Mexicans who first ate it. In Mexico, it existed since 500 BC. It's unclear how did it reach Europe, maybe by Christopher Columbus or Hernán Cortés, who captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Since Spanish colonization of the Americas, tomato reached Spanish Philippines and then Asia as well as Europe. It is known that it was in use in Italy by 1548. In Britain, although existed for long time, it was believed that it was unfit for eating, even poisonous. The Same case was in North America. The 19th century brought the tomato to the Middle East, but today tomato is the main ingredient of their cuisine.
China is the main producer of tomato. Other large produces are India, the United States, and Turkey.
There are several classifications of tomato and around 7500 varieties.
Tomatoes can be determinate or indeterminate, depending on time of crop, is it all at once, or tomato continues producing fruits until killed by frost. Determinate Tomatoes grow in bushes and usually have 60-90cm in height, while indeterminate are vining varieties and are 1.5-3m tall. While determinate types flower and give fruits all at once, indeterminate continue to grow and give fruits at a different time, but produce larger crops over a longer period.
Now is the most popular Heirloom tomato type (especially in organic gardening) which can be found in different colors - from common red to white and purple. Besides productivity, it is resistant to many diseases and self-pollinator, as well. This type is not a regular hybrid but have been developed over many years through open-pollination. (Hybrids are produced by force cross-pollination between two different types.) Hybrid types are tougher, but Heirloom tomatoes have more flavor. When gardeners save their own seeds for the next year, they usually plant heirloom, because the next year it will be an identical plant like year before; Hybrid's seeds will not give the same plant every year, but plant with some random combination of traits or even plant could be more likely to one parent used for combining when hybrid was made.
Tomato types based on shape:
Beefsteak - these tomatoes are large (around 10 cm in diameter) and meaty with thinner skin. This type is often used for sandwiches. Their color may be red, yellow or sometimes pink. Usually, they are indeterminate. Varieties are: Big Beef, Brandywine Pink, Cherokee Purple, Caspian Pink, Hillbilly, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter.
Plum tomatoes (also called Roma (Paste) tomatoes, including some pear tomatoes) - they don't have much juice, but they're high in solids, so it is usually used for tomato sauces or (like name sais) Italian recipes. They are 7–9 cm long and typically determinate. Big Mama, Mr. Gallinelli’s Plum, Golden Milano and San Marzano are this types.
Cherry tomatoes - they have the same size as wild tomatoes (1-2cm). They are round and have a sweet taste. Its grow in large clusters, even when the summer is cool. Most of them are indeterminate. Cherry tomatoes are ideal for growing in pots. The most popular are varieties Sweet 100, Red Currant, Sun Gold, Black Cherry, Sunrise Bumble Bee.
Grape tomatoes - this type similar to plum tomatoes, but smaller than that kind. They grow in large clusters, like Cherry tomatoes. Most of them are indeterminate. This type includes varieties such as Christmas Grapes, Nova, Golden Sweet and Red Pearl.
Campari tomatoes - they are specific because of their sweetness. Their size is between cherry and plum tomatoes. They are juicy with low acidity and high sugar level. Campari type tomatoes include different varieties, like 'Magic Mountain' and 'Cornell M'.
Tomberries - this is the small type with only 5 mm in diameter. It is marked as “ the smallest tomatoes in the world”. It is produced by the Netherlands company Littletom BV.
Oxheart tomatoes - their fruit is about 10-15cm in shape of a heart, so in size, they are similar to beefsteaks. The fruit is in pale pink color. Orange Strawberry, Amish Paste, Kosovo, Oxheart are types.
Pear tomatoes - they got their name because of their shape (pear). They belong to smaller tomatoes. Varieties are Yellow pear, Santorini, Japanese Black Trifele.
"Slicing" (sometimes called "globe") tomatoes - it's mostly commercial type. They can even be in the diameter 5–6 cm. The most popular are varieties Striped German, Lemon Boy, Celebrity, Garden Peach.
Salad tomatoes (also called Standard tomatoes) - they are 5-7.5cm in diameter. Because they are ideal for sandwiches, they have more varieties than other types: Pantano Romanesco, Green Zebra, Black Zebra, Costoluto Genovese, Sweet Cluster, Valencia, Carmello, Stupice, Early Girl, Enchantment - are some of them.
Some of this varieties are hybrids (like Campari), and some are Heirloom type (like Beefsteak or Pear).
Since first cultivated tomatoes were orange or yellow, and now tomatoes are usually red, there are types based on the color of fruit, also: