Tomatoes are used in vegetable curries, soups and even summer cocktails and mocktails. The red, tangy fruit is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking and is inevitably used in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries and gravies. Tomatoes add a delicious flavour to Indian curries that is difficult to replicate by using some other vegetable. They are probably the second most-used veggies (which are technically fruits) after onions in Indian kitchens. Their use is all-pervasive and desi salad platters are also incomplete without the presence of the diced and ripe tomatoes. Let's face it- they're popular because they're oh-so delicious and are loaded with a range of health benefits.
Tomatoes are very low in calories- a 100 gm portion of ripe tomatoes contains only 17.69 calories (as per data by the United States Department of Agriculture). Tomatoes are 95 per cent water, so they can keep you hydrated during summers. They have almost zero fat and are also rich in immunity-boosting vitamin C. The lycopene present in ripe tomatoes is what gives them the red colour. This compound is said to be linked to low incidence of cardiovascular diseases and is also said to protect the skin against harsh UV radiations. Tomatoes keep inflammation at bay and can also soothe skin burns during summers.
How To Ripen Tomatoes
If you've been growing tomatoes in your kitchen garden and have accidentally plucked them in an unripe state, then you can adopt a very easy measure to ripen them fast and use them in cooking immediately. There are times when you get the occasional unripe green tomato in your grocery bag and you can leave it with the other ripe tomatoes to let it ripen or use the following method of ripening it faster. All you need for ripening green unripe tomatoes is some container (a plastic bag, a cardboard box or a jar) and a ripe banana. The fruit is chosen as it can help ripen almost any fruit or vegetable faster. This happens because as they ripen, bananas release moderate amounts of ethylene gas.
Ethylene gas acts as a plant hormone which shuts of the genes ETR1 and CTR1, which regulate cell growth and death. The gas shuts these genes off leading to ripening of the fruit by breakdown of cell walls and conversion of starches to sugars. There are some fruits like the orange which may not respond to the signal, but most fruits and vegetables do and tomatoes have been known to react. Add your unripe tomatoes and a single ripe banana to a container of choice and then shut it and leave it at a warm, semi-humid and dark place. You will see the tomatoes will start ripening.
The ripening process will take between a week or two depending on how unripe they are at the outstart. Use this easy method to ripen your tomatoes at home!